For most NBA basketball fans, the highlight of All-Star Weekend used to be the slam dunk contest. Julius Erving (a.k.a. “Dr. J”) participated in, and won, the first dunk contest in 1976, electrifying the crowd with a dunk from just inside the free throw line. Nobody had ever seen anything like it. Other past dunk champions include Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, and Dwight Howard. These A-list stars flew through the air, captivated our imagination, and became legends. Who can forget Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins squaring off in the 1985 dunk contest or their amazing rematch in 1988? We thought it couldn’t get any better…until we watched Vince Carter’s performance in the 2000 dunk contest.
Now, virtually nobody watches the dunk contest. It has devolved into a snooze-fest featuring players we have never heard of and whom we will quickly forget. Commenting on the field of nobodies in this year’s slam dunk contest, one sportswriter aptly tweeted, “If the NBA held this event in your driveway, would you open drapes to watch?”
Whereas the dunk contest used to be an NBA star’s fast-track to a richer shoe deal and more posters on their fans’ walls (or just a way to treat NBA fans to something special), today’s NBA elite — with the exception of Blake Griffin in last year’s contest — are now too scared of losing to even compete. That did not used to be the case. NBA legend Clyde “the Glide” Drexler competed in 5 slam dunk contests and never won. Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen competed in the dunk contest knowing the odds were against him. Heck, even three-point specialist Ray Allen competed in a dunk contest.
Following a thunderous dunk by LeBron James in this year’s All-Star game, NBA commentator and Ferengi look-a-like Reggie Miller said what we have all known for years — guys like LeBron James need to compete in the dunk contest. (And Miller is not throwing stones from a glass house, either — Miller participated in 4 NBA three-point contests, never winning a single one, but never chickening out.)
In 2009, LeBron James “preliminarily” agreed to compete in the 2010 dunk contest, before, of course, chickening out. This weekend, LeBron said he would reconsider competing in the dunk contest if there were a $1 million prize.
Screw that! Instead, I’ve got an idea for how the NBA’s lawyers can save the dunk contest — even if LeBron isn’t going to like it. Continue reading the full story . . . »