Based on the reaction from NBA players, fans and bloggers, whoever thought up the new format for the Slam Dunk Contest needs to go back to the drawing board.
Instead of the old format, which pitted each dunker against one another to crown a champion, this year's contest featured a conference-on-conference battle. After the new "freestyle" round, in which all three dunkers from each conference had 90 seconds to pull off as many dunks as possible, the "battle" round had dunkers facing off one-on-one in a loser-gets-eliminated matchup.
What's so bad about that? The East swept the battle round, 3-0, meaning all six dunkers pulled off only one dunk. Instead of then pitting Wall, George and Ross against one another to crown an ultimate champion, fans voted on the "Sprite Slam Dunker of the Night." It was the definition of anticlimactic, in other words.
Deadspin's Samer Kalaf called it "hot garbage" and a "huge f-----g disaster." "The format got in the way of some phenomenal dunks," ESPN.com's Michael Wallace wrote. Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver said the "current format has the potential to ruin any field."
Fans and writers weren't the only ones irked by the new format. A number of NBA players tweeted their dissatisfaction on Saturday night, which could bode poorly for the league's chances of attracting top talent moving forward.
Sports on Earth's Shaun Powell suggested finding a sponsor to raise the stakes, making the grand prize a "winner-take-all $1 million prize." Even adding a final round after the "battle round," in which the winning conference's three dunkers go mano-a-mano for the "Slam Dunk Champion" trophy, would be an improvement.
One thing is clear after Saturday night: The new dunk contest format needs to undergo some Pierre-the-Pelican-esque surgery.