How To Save The NBA Dunk Contest

Jason Richardson in "The Last Great Dunk Contest" (2003)

Ladies and gentlemen, I am in mourning. What transpired tonight in Orlando was no Dunk Contest, it was the ghost of the Dunk Contest. The real dunk contest has been dead since 2003. The killer? None other than the bloated egos of today’s NBA superstars. Believe it or not, they think they are too good to participate in the Dunk Contest.

Todays stars treat the Dunk Contest like a chore. They would rather hand it off to the young guys than compete in it. When asked to participate in the Dunk Contest, the elite players lead us on as if they will give it a shot, only to distract us from their real answer which is no. Don’t believe me? Take this into consideration: Since 2004, a grand total of three superstars (Amare Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, and Blake Griffin) have participated in the Dunk Contest. My criteria for what makes a superstar, you ask? Simple, a superstar is the best player on his team.

Todays NBA has more than enough talent to hold an entertaining Dunk Contest, but they are holding back. During the Dunk Contest’s heyday in the 1980’s, the Superstars would actually be the ones competing the hardest. Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins would square off against each other in the Dunk Contests, and then battle it out in the Eastern Conference Finals months later. The lineup for the 2012 Dunk Contest could’ve been, LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Dwayne Wade, and Derrick Rose. Do you honestly think that Chase Budinger and Jeremy Evans could out dunk that crew? Do you even know who Chase Budinger and Jeremy Evans are?

The point is that we know the NBA could put on a much, much better show than it did tonight. They just need to figure out a way to make the dunk contest more appealing to the elite players. Clearly bragging rights, and a trophy just aren’t enough to bring the superstars out anymore. They need to make the Dunk Contest more meaningful. They need to prove that it isn’t just some lame kiddie pageant for the young guys.

The first thing that needs to go is the selection process. Only All-Stars should be allowed to participate in All-Star Weekend events, especially the Dunk Contest. The only exception to this rule are the players from the Rising Stars game. Once the All-Star teams come out, the fans will vote in four All-Stars to participate in the Dunk Contest. If an All-Star chooses to forfeit his Dunk Contest nomination, he forfeits his All-Star game nomination as well. He will still be considered an All-Star, but he will have to sit out the All-Star-Game as punishment. Once an All-Star has participated in the Dunk Contest at least once, he is no longer obligated to participate in it provided he is selected in the future. This will instantly improve the quality of the dunk contest without any fundamental changes. It will encourage the NBA’s best dunkers to at least give the Dunk Contest a try.

Kenny “The Jet” Smith needs to go as well. He is tolerable as an announcer during the games, but he makes the dunk contest nearly unwatchable. I don’t need a washed up NBA player to get me excited about the Dunk Contest. The Dunk Contest is supposed to be exciting enough on its own. The focus is supposed to be on the dunkers themselves, not the annoying little bald guy who “interviews” them before they dunk

. I actually like the current dunk contest format. Three rounds, three dunks, no judges, America chooses the winner. Thats exactly the way a subjective contest such as the dunk contest should be judged; by the entire nation as a whole. America should choose the contestants, and America should choose the winner. The Dunk Contest Champion should truly be the people’s choice.

Nevertheless, one final change must be implemented. The Dunk Contest must have an awesome prize. We’re talking about more than just a shiny trophy here. Athletes have plenty of those. We need something unique. Something that these millionaires don’t already have. Something they would be willing to fight for. Something like the warm fuzzy feeling inside after giving money towards a good cause. Many athletes donate to charities of their own free will. They say it feels good to give back. Im sure it will feel even better to give money that doesn’t come out of their own pocket. Thats why the Dunk Contest Champion should get a million dollars in prize money towards the charity of his choice.

Heres what the 2013 Dunk Contest looks like providing the NBA implements my changes. LeBron James finally participates in the Dunk Contest. He gets his buddy D-Wade to join in as well. The fans vote in Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard who happily accept the challenge of being in a truly competitive contest that plays to their strengths. Blake Griffin gets creative and earns a narrow victory over LeBron in the most watched Dunk Contest ever. Griffin donates his prize money to Aid-Still-Required, a non profit organization that has dedicated its time and resources to outreach in Haiti. The NBA Dunk Contest has been resurrected and turned into a global fundraiser for the needy. Is this all possible? We may never know unless the Dunk Contest is changed. Until it is changed, a boy can dream…cant he?



  1. actually a good article cheif… respect, now do it in ap writing so you can sleep in class without being bothered

  2. I think the dunk contest should be anybody with high flying ability, as much as i love his game i wouldn’t want to see dirk out there. Also Jeremy Evans went to work, two balls caught, jumping over somebody. Finally We have to keep in mind the vast majority of amazing dunks have been done by the past super stars and the best they could do is improve on old ones(like Blake improved Vince carter’s). I agree it would be nice to see Lebron and someone else, but it actually seems better suited with young talent because it is them trying to make a name for themselves.

  3. I agree with you in part Javon, but I am tired of seeing guys like Chase Budinger in my dunk contests! We need a baseline level of talent which requiring the dunk contest to be an All-Star exclusive event would bring. It would encourage guys who we know can put on a good show like LeBron and Kevin Durant to participate in it. I want be able to sit down and watch the dunk contest without the fear of it being awful like this year’s was. I want to ensure that the dunk contest will be entertaining

  4. Thank you for such interesting article. Comments are good too not like on others blogs.

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