It's time once again for one of the most captivating events in all of sports.
Ever since Vince Carter's showstopping victory in 2000 (and there's your wow-I'm-old moment for the day), the NBA Slam Dunk Contest has been under a lot of scrutiny.
Whether it be the rules (allowing a participant to attempt a dunk 14 times before completing it. I'm looking at you, Nate Rob), the ridiculous use of unnecessary props (I'm looking at you, everyone) or the mere fact that there isn't anything new left to do, the annual contest always seems to underwhelm.
Nevertheless, it still draws an audience—and for good reason. When you get the best athletes in the world on the same court putting down dunks most of us couldn't do off a trampoline, it would be a mistake not to watch.
This year, the intrigue will be even higher.
Date: Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014
Time: Night's events start at 8 p.m. ET. Dunk contest is fourth.
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans
Live Stream: NBA TV
First of all, let's get this out of the way. No, LeBron James won't be competing this year. That's either something you already knew or something you don't care about, but I just couldn't find any other way to include this quote from Karl Malone, via the Deseret News' Jody Genessy:
Karl Malone on LeBron not doing the dunk contest. "As my mom would say...we’re trying to beat the fart out of a dead mule. He ain't coming."— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) February 14, 2014
But what this dunk contest is lacking in LeBron, it makes up for in talented, youthful, galvanizing guards.
All six participants—defending champ Terrence Ross, Paul George, John Wall, Harrison Barnes, Damian Lillard and Ben McLemore—play primarily on the wing, except for Wall and Lillard, who are point guards.
No offense to the big guys, but explosive guards are the type of players who make this contest electrifying. Dunks just look better when they come from smaller players.
He really didn’t jump over the car. If you can dunk, you can do that. All you’ve got to do is make sure you don’t hit the front of the car, then catch the ball and hang on the rim. I have seen guys really jump over the hood of the car and do windmills and stuff. It was big time because it was a Kia and because it was in L.A.
Moreover, every single participant is 23 or younger, and according to a press release, via NBA.com, this is the first time in 26 years that three All-Stars (George, Lillard and Wall) will take part in the contest.
Dunk contests may not inspire as much excitement as they used to, as they've almost become more about the production quality than the dunks themselves. But this year's edition just feels so much different.
Who's going to win?
You've got the added star power. You've got the explosive, athletic wing players. And you've got the young players, who are going to be more interested in doing something no one has ever seen before rather than using silly props.
Make sure to tune into this one. Because it's going to be the best show we've seen in years.