LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the NBA Dream Dunk Contest
Last year's Sprite Slam Dunk Contest was just poor. Nate Robinson took home his third title in relatively quiet fashion.
DeMar DeRozan, Shannon Brown and Gerald Wallace also competed, but it just didn't have the same feel as usual. Only one All-Star (Wallace) actually competed in the competition.
I thought the whole point of All-Star Weekend was to showcase and celebrate the best talent in the NBA.
Big-time players need to step up, realize the injury risk is minimal and join up for the dunk contest because this year's lineup is not stunning either.
Blake Griffin is a beast and obviously belongs there, but the rest of the field is not as impressive. JaVale McGee and Serge Ibaka are both big men who throw it down regularly, but neither of them plays All-Star-caliber basketball and therefore don't deserve to be in the competition.
The fourth contestant, Brandon Jennings, currently is resting a broken foot and has two dunks the entire season. Let me repeat that: He has dunked twice, and he is in the dunk contest? He ranks 246th in the league in total dunks.
Imagine the dunk contest this year without Blake Griffin. It would be depressing. This is not a knock on the other contestants, but let's face it—none of them have "star power." It is almost definite that Jennings, Ibaka and McGee won't be All-Stars come February.
With that in mind, here are some players all fans would like to see in the Dunk Contest that would help rejuvenate the competition.
1. LeBron James
As we all know, LeBron is one of the best players in the NBA. It is also common knowledge that he is a ferocious dunker.
At 6'8", 250 pounds, the man truly is a beast. He is known most for his powerful one-handed slams, but he also has great leaping ability. He is believed to have a 44" vertical leap.
Combine his height and jumping ability with sheer athleticism, and you can see why he would be a valuable addition. He has the power of the big men but the grace of the guards, and that is what makes him a unique dunker.
Because of injury risks and multiple other reasons, LeBron has decided not to participate in the contest this year. I, for one, not only think his participation would help the NBA get the Slam Dunk contest back as popular as it used to be, but also feel that it would help him regain some of the popularity he lost during the "decision."
Dunks this year: 36 (19th in NBA)
2. Dwyane Wade
Like LeBron, Wade is on a contender, and I assume he thinks it is probably not worth the risk to compete in the Slam Dunk Contest. However, the general consensus is that injury risks in competitions like these are quite low.
Yes, it may take some time out of his schedule to come up with some dunk ideas, but apart from that it should not be a big deal, seeing as he will definitely be there on All-Star Saturday anyway.
Dwyane Wade is a slasher who drives fast to the rim, and most of his dunks are posterizing people. Since his days as a rookie he has proved that he is a high flier, and his dunk over Anderson Varejao last year cemented his status as one of the elite dunkers in the league.
Nicknamed "Flash," his speed and finesse would definitely be embraced in a dunk contest, and he would be a much better addition than the likes of Brandon Jennings. Watch the video to see for yourself.
Dunks this year: 46 (11th in NBA)
3. Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin is already in the dunk contest, but it is illegal to leave him out of any dream dunk contest. He is a rookie sensation who has provided the NBA world with highlight dunks on a nightly basis. At 6'10", 250 pounds, the man truly is a tank.
He sat out his first season with an injury, but since the start of this season he has been nothing but a success. He leads the NBA in dunks and is already averaging just under 22 PPG and 13 RPG.
Everyone knew he could throw it down, but his real dunking ability was shown to the country when he had two highlight-reel dunks against the Knicks. He dunks with sheer power.
The soon to be All-Star had this to say on how he will dunk in the contest: "I think I’m just gonna try and get up as high as possible and throw it down as hard as possible." Luckily, this man is actually in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest and is easily the odds-on favorite. These three dunks against the Knicks in the above video demonstrate his raw dunking ability.
Dunks this year: 83 (first in NBA)
4. Dwight Howard
Fast Forward to 2:27 for the Actual Dunk Contest
The "Sticker" dunk, the "Throwing it in the Hoop" dunk, the "12' Hoop" dunk. He truly is the most creative player ever to enter the competition.
Yes, I know that Dwight Howard has already been in the Slam Dunk Competition three times, but he was not in the competition last year, and I think he has proved over the years that he is never low on ideas.
Part of the reason his dunks are so creative is that the "typical" dunks do not look as impressive because he is 6'11" tall.
He is questionably the most athletic big man of all time, and he has shown the nation that he is definitely not vertically challenged. In 2007 he stuck a sticker on the backboard as he dunked the ball. The sticker was measured at 12'6" high.
He has the most All-Star Votes among Eastern Conference centers at the moment, so we know he would be there anyway. The only problem would be coming up with new dunks.
Dunks this year: 67 (Tied for third in NBA)
Amare Stoudemire at his best.
I was considering putting him in the top four, but he does not have that many jaw-dropping dunks. This could be down to the fact that he is not a flashy player, but that in no way means he could not impress a Los Angeles crowd this February.
At 6'9" and 230 pounds, Durant is an electrifying young player who can get to the rim at speed and dunk gracefully. It would be interesting to see how the young superstar would perform on such a stage.
Dunks this year: 65 (Tied for fifth in NBA)
Derrick Rose has blistering speed and a ridiculous first step. This is one of the things that makes him a special dunker during games, as he has had many memorable dunks since he joined the Bulls out of Memphis a few years ago. He does not get too creative during games, but he definitely dunks with authority, and there is no reason to believe that he wouldn't be able to excite the crowd.
He is a much better player than Brandon Jennings and dunks much more regularly in games. He has 10 dunks this year, which is not a lot, but it is pretty high for a point guard and is much more than the two that Jennings has had.
Dunks this year: 10 (112th in NBA)
Participated in the 2003 and 2005 Slam Dunk Competitions. His dunks were not amazing, but he does have great leaping ability, and if he made better decisions as to what dunks to do, he could be a contender for the title. He is second in the NBA in dunks this year with 68.
Dunks this year: 68 (Second in NBA)
Josh Smith won the Dunk title in 2005 but is remembered for the "Tape" dunk in 2006. He put a piece of tape way behind the free throw line but then did not even jump from it. Overall he has let us know that he is a powerful dunker who gets the fans on their feet on a nightly basis in Atlanta. I am sure he would be welcomed back to the competition. He is ninth in the NBA in dunks this year with 48.
Dunks this year: 48 (ninth in NBA)
Dream All-Time Dunk Contest/Conclusion
The Dream All-Time Dunk Contest: Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Vince Carter and Nate Robinson
Nate Robinson has to be on the list, as he has won the most dunk contests all-time. Jordan and Wilkins' battles were some of the greatest of all time and truly were the best of the Dunk Contest. Vince Carter wowed fans in 2000 with his spectacular performance at the Dunk Contest.
These are the four players I believed would make the best dunk contest if they were all in their primes. Imagine Nate asking Jordan to step on the court so he could try to jump over him. It would truly be a classic.
All four of these players revolutionized the Dunk Contest and brought it to new heights. Without them the competition would not be where it is today. It is truly a shame that the Dunk Contest is not what it used to be, but hopefully Blake Griffin can relight the fire this February. Comment below if you think I missed anyone in either of the categories.
The Dream 2011 Dunk Contest: Dwyane Wade, Blake Griffin, LeBron James and Dwight Howard
The Actual 2011 Dunk Contest: Brandon Jennings, Blake Griffin, JaVale McGee and Serge Ibaka