The NBA Slam Dunk contest used to be a spectacle of human advancement. A man who could take flight 13-feet from the basket, cock the ball behind his head, spread his legs, stick out his tongue and pummel a basketball through a rim 10 feet in the air?
I didn't believe that was possible when I was a kid. A man in a purple and black jersey who can spin 360 degrees while windmilling the ball into the hoop? Erroneous! But wait, Vince Carter did it. But what do we have now? Gerald Green blowing out a candle? A cartwheel dunk? The Slam Dunk contest is an enterprise which erodes in upon itself—sooner or later there are no new dunks to create. And when a new one is discovered, it is usually birthed from such extreme thinking the novelty of is just laughable.
When was the last time you were WOW'd after seeing a dunk contest dunk? Probably Andre Iguodola's off-the-back-of-the-backboard dunk from '06. Other than that, all the participant's have managed is the act of jumping over more and more people, feeble attempts to recreate the free-throw line dunk which, upon review, never begins behind the line or another replication of some legendary dunk from years past. The creativity will last, but the wonderment behind the event? It's gone.
For Blake Griffin, what good would come of him joining the list of dunking participants? Nothing. Most importantly, let us not forget how Griffin ended his rookie campaign - landing awkwardly after one of his typical core-rattling dunks. The argument that many superstars put forth when defending their decision not to partake in the dunk contest is the fear of injury, and normally, I think it's a load of nonsense. But, in Griffin's case, there's much more to lose than gain.
Griffin's reputation is one built on dunks already. With his recent play, the prospect of Griffin being considered for the NBA MVP is very real. The truth of the matter is Griffin is much more than an around-the-rim dunker in the mold of Dwight Howard. In fact, Griffin only had one dunk in his record-setting performance against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
Amongst his 47 points were fadeaway jumpers, 15-foot bank shots, and 1's and athletic finishes around the rim. He put on a fully-formed offensive clinic. But, as mentioned earlier, only one dunk. The man has much more to his game than the dunk. Despite that fact, Griffin does lead the league in dunks, eclipsing the traditional leader Howard. It's time to get away from that reputation.
Which superstars around the league participate in the dunk contest? Does LeBron James? Does D-Wade? Kobe has, as a youngster when the competition was still the baddest thing in All-Star festivities, but he seems very comfortable in the stands as of late. With only a few months in the NBA under his belt, Blake Griffin has already established himself as one of the league's 10 best players; it's time he begins acting like one.
By competing in the 2011 Slam Dunk Contest, Griffin will only be echoing the idea he is nothing more than an athletic big man who can only play around the rim. With nothing to gain from participating, Griffin should sit out and let the underlings of the league compete in this now irrelevant display.
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