NBA slam dunk contest needs to be changed

blake-griffin-kia-dunkGrowing up watching the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest was a privilege. I understand that now after watching the garbage we have seen over the last few years.

While the contest still pulls in solid viewing numbers, All-Star weekend and the Slam Dunk Contest could be so much more.

Imagine if the NFL had the rights to the Slam Dunk contest, we would be paying $250 to watch the dunks in 3D by now.

Why players like Blake Griffin, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard are not in the contest each year is beyond comprehension, especially with their competitive nature.

Shaquille O’Neal called out the NBA greats that refused to enter the contest during the broadcast. Shaq said “It’s time to bring back the Slam Dunk contest and I’m calling all these players out.”

Were we spoiled by Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan, Dr. J, Spud Webb and even Vince Carter?

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, Blake Griffin and Nate Robinson, who have all participated and won the contest before would be such a draw for the league that it may possibly put up numbers that the NBA Finals would.

Instead, we have lesser and unknown players because players fear for injury. Not only is the common fan asking “who are these guys?” they also have numerous chances to make the dunk.

Let’s admit it, once you have seen them attempt the dunk five times it loses it’s star-power.

No one will remember the 2012 dunk contest and for David Stern and the NBA that is a lose-lose proposition, especially for a league that likes to pad their pockets.

The NBA needs to find a way to entice these superstars into this contest and make it a what it could be.

Start by getting the stars in and get rid of second chance dunks.

Video: Slam dunk contest, Top 10 dunks of all-time

Dwight Howard

Dwight HowardThe NBA All-Star dunk contest has always been a favorite event that takes second place only to the actual All Star game. Through the years, many great athletes have competed and we have been treated to dunks that made our eyes bleed.

But what dunks stand above the rest?

Here we try to pin down ten of the greatest stuffs ever.

10. Dwight Howard-‘Superman’ Throw Down (2008):

Sure, we can chalk up some of the excitement surrounding this one to Dwight Howard’s donning the outfit of a certain former citizen of the planet Krypton, but the man was not trying to get extra points or get his mug on Sportscenter, he was trying to get your attention.

Dwight takes off in such a way that you would think he actually thinks he can fly and throws the ball into the hoop with such ferociousness that any opposing defender would have been hard pressed to find this Superman’s Kryptonite.

9. Spud Webb-Floor To Backboard (1986):

Simply put, Spudd Webb put everything he had into this dunk. All his hops, all his athleticism and all his heart. He took nothing back to the locker room that night as he faced off against then teammate and relentless dunking machine Dominique Wilkins.

Suddenly, after this dunk, kids that were deemed too short to play pro ball or were cut from their school team due to height could be heard practicing in driveways, parks and gyms all over the country.

8. Jason Richardson- Final Dunk (2003):

Although the dunk itself is as impressive as it gets, with Richardson pulling off a between the leg dunk with a reverse finish, it was the storyline behind the dunk that made this sweet jam even more exciting.

Richardson had won the Dunk Contest in 2002 and had agreed to compete again to defend his crown. The pressure was about as high as it can get as Richardson needed a 48 to tie Desmond Mason’s score and needed at least a 49 0r a 50 to win it all and repeat.

He triumphed in this brief moment of glory and made sure that he would go down in Dunk Contest history with one of the best final dunks of all time.

7. Amare Stoudemire- Get Your Head in the Game:

In one of the most interesting uses of an assistant’s body parts in the contest, Amare Stoudemire used former teammate Steve Nash’s soccer skills to have Nash make a head pass to Amare, who then caught the ball, spun in the air, and threw down a one handed slam.

The dunk was not the best in the world but the set up was creative, well timed and something that was sure to get the fans out of their seats and the judges scrambling to find the score cards with the double digits printed on them.

6. Gerald Green Makes A Wish (2008):

As Kenny Smith loves to point out when he is on broadcast team at a dunk contest, ‘you have to sell your dunks’. The contests themselves are pure entertainment for fans and non fans alike and the more you put into a dunk in terms of set up and originality, the more awesome it is for the casual fans at home.

In 2008 Gerald Green decided to put a cup cake at the back of the rim next to the glass with a lit candle stuck in the center. As he went up and competed the stuff, he blew the candle out. If your thinking the movement of the ball going into the rim or something else put out the candle, watch the replay in the video below in slow motion.

He actually blows the candle out.

5. Dominique Wilkins- Windmill Dunk (1986):

There have been many windmill dunks in the history of the contest and many more will most likely be attempted as it’s future rolls on, but none can beat Dominique Wilkins windmill in the 1986 contest.

It is perfect in execution, the way his arm windmills with the ball palmed in his hand, his feet walking across the air as he glides to the rim. Then comes the the intensity as he slams the ball into the cylinder.

There are many windmill dunks in the history of the dunk contest, but this is the best.


4. Andre Iguodala- Behind the Backboard (2006):

Getting an assist from Allen Iverson (Wonder if he “practiced” the routine?) , AI tosses the ball off the glass behind the backboard. Iguodala catches it and slams it home on the other side. Even more amazing, Iguodala actually had to bend his head down so that it did not hit the backboard as he goes underneath it, a spectacular feat of athleticism and execution.

Afterwords Iggy runs to the locker room tunnel, as there is no need to wonder about the judge’s score.

3. Michael Jordan- ‘Jumpman’ (1988):

We have all seen it.

Even if you have never watched one game of basketball in your life or you live in a third world country, most likely you have seen this dunk at least once in your lifetime. It is on our clothing and our shoes and it is an image that is, for better or for worse, is iconic as Neil Armstrong landing on the moon or President Kennedy getting shot.

This dunk has transcended everything to become something beyond basketball, it is a living, breathing  thing and with good reason. It is surely one of the most supreme examples of hops, hang time and athletic talent ever captured on film.

2. Blake Griffin- Driving to the Rim (2010):

Of course you knew this one had to make the cut, although you might not agree with its rank, but jumping over a car with a pass thrown from the sun roof is an amazing feat no matter how many choirs were singing in the background.

What also makes it special is the calm manner in which Griffin delivers the dunk, as if to say it is no big deal, he can do this all day long. Even the camera crew seems not to have realized he was up in the air until it was almost over.

The dunk contest has always been about the young talent showing that they are no fluke, that they belong to be among the best basketball players in the world and have supreme athletic skills.

1. Vince Carter- 360 Windmill Dunk (2000):

Before Vince Carter was a role player in the NBA he was Vinsanity, riding the wave of the search for the next Jordan. His excellent ability to dunk and score made him on of the brightest young stars restocking the NBA’s talent pool after most of the former generation of stars had left the game behind.

Carter sealed the deal by bringing his ‘A’ game to the 2000 dunk contest, and despite all  of his dunks being special that night, his first slam told everyone that this contest was over as he pulled off a 360 windmill that is so perfect you would think it was computer generated special effects.

Thomas Willam Spychalski is a freelance writer for hire who co-edits the UK cult website Cult and has been published at such sites as Kasterborous, Whotopia and is also a reporter for the paper Dolphin Talk in Port O’Conner Texas. Tom is also working on breaking into fictional works as well as a long term non fiction book project on the Amityville Horror.