I used to love the slam dunk contest. In all honesty, who didn’t love it? It was the one chance every year to get to see some of our favorite professional basketball players take part in an exhibition that allowed us to see the outrageous potential they all possessed as athletes. Part of the magic of the slam dunk contest was that these players, our idols, the superstars among the all-stars, could do things we could only dream of doing.
It’s not like that anymore. Not even close.
People like to point to the fact that there are only so many things you can do with a basketball when it comes to dunking it. The human body can only stay in the air so long, it can only spin so many times, it has limits. That’s why it “lost its luster.” It had gotten boring because every year it was just more of the same. There was no more reinventing the wheel so to speak and nothing more that these players could do that we haven’t already seen.
That’s bull crap.
The reason the slam dunk contest sucks is because the players we want to see participate want nothing to do with it. It never used to be like that. The slam dunk contest always used to attract the superstars with an ocassional middle tier or rookie player thrown in the mix. Sure, the superstars didn’t always win the contest, but they gave us a legitimate show. Why this new breed of superstars feels like they’re above competing is beyond me. Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins were viewed as gods thanks in large part to their performances in the dunk contest. LeBron James and his brethren would rather sit on the bench in an ugly suit coat and hipster glasses.
That’s not to take anything away from this years participants. They did the best they could with what little they had to work with, but again, I’m sorry… no one was excited about the prospect of Jeremy Evans (who I had never heard of), Chase Buddinger, Derrick Williams, and Paul George. Why would anyone be excited about that grouping? Give me LeBron vs. Druant vs. Westbrook vs. Howard vs. Rose vs. Griffin. I’d even take an Andre Igoudala or Dwyane Wade. I want people in the competition that I know can throw down with some style and not all of this smoke and mirrors theatrical mumbo jumbo (glow in the dark tape and Kevin Hart as a mail man… really?). I don’t need Kenny Smith emceeing in the most awkward way possible. Give me the players everyone wants to see, a basket, a ball and let’s see what happens.
It’s embarrassing and I love the fact that Charles Barkley said as much during the actual telecast. He’s right, the real stars of the game today need to take part in the competition. They need to bring life back to it. Look at what Vince Carter did in 2000 when he decided to compete. It was the greatest slam dunk exhibition anyone had ever seen.
So David Stern and other NBA big wigs… do whatever you can to fix this. Saturday night was embarrassing for yourselves, the league, and the players that were involved. The slam dunk contest is a truly awesome and unique event and it needs to be saved. Do the right thing. Bring the superstars back into the mix.