The fans voted John Wall of the Washington Wizards as the best dunker of the night, while the Eastern Conference thoroughly dominated the Western Conference during the NBA Slam Dunk Contest team competition.
Wall ended a lackluster event with the best dunk of the night, drawing praise from judges Magic Johnson, Dominique Wilkins and Julius Erving, via The Washington Post's Michael Lee:
This year's contest came with a new set of rules, which invoked plenty of responses such as these from Sportsnet's Holly MacKenzie and The New York Times' Scott Cacciola:
Tracy McGrady didn't seem too impressed with the showing:
Let's attempt to explain.
First up was the freestyle round, where the three East dunkers and three West dunkers each got 90 seconds to produce as many throwdowns as possible. In short, it was met with a mixed reaction.
On the one hand, there were innovative combinations such as this one:
Others, such as Basketball Insider's Alex Kennedy, weren't so thrilled:
ESPN's Kevin Pelton pointed out why the round lacked so much energy:
At one point, Damian Lillard threw down a between-the-legs slam, but Ben McLemore was already on his way to another solid dunk before we had any time to truly react.
Following each side's 90-second run, the three judges voted on the winner of the round. All three selected the East, who then got the opportunity to select the order of dunkers for the head-to-head battle round.
At this point, though, as the judges held up their choices on their tablets and made explanations like an episode of American Idol, it became clear that the production quality was just too far over the top.
Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports and Brian Campbell of ESPN summed it up:
In the first head-to-head matchup, Terrence Ross of the Raptors, with the help of Toronto native Drake, beat out Lillard, which eliminated the Trail Blazers point guard from the competition.
Here's a look at the defending champ's through-the-legs dunk:
Up next, Paul George defeated Harrison Barnes fairly easily with this throwdown:
CBS Sports' Matt Moore put it simply:
McLemore was up next. The Kings rookie dunked over Shaquille O'Neal, who was sitting in a throne, but Wall responded by putting down an amazing reverse slam over the Wizards mascot to sweep the battle round for the East.
Here's a look:
After a mostly underwhelming event, Grantland's Rembert Browne probably put it best:
Unfortunately, following the spectacular dunk to end the mostly disappointing event, most of us were left feeling like this:
Sigh. Another year, another dunk-contest letdown.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!