NBA Slam Dunk Contest

February 17, 2012 by staff 

NBA Slam Dunk Contest, The moment that a Kia Optima, the official car of the NBA, was driven onto the court for the finale of last year’s Slam Dunk Contest, one of the league’s most prized All-Star weekend events lost its last shred of credibility. This year, with the least interesting foursome of competitors in its 28-year history, it also has lost its appeal.

The four players who will vie for the dunk title Feb. 25 at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., are the Houston Rockets’ Chase Budinger, the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George, the New York Knicks’ Iman Shumpert and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Derrick Williams.

According to the NBA dunk leaders tracked by, they are tied for 41st (George), tied for 45th (Williams), tied for 97th (Shumpert) and tied for 149th (Budinger) in dunks this season.

Meanwhile, JaVale McGee, who is second in the league with 72 dunks — George has 20 — won’t participate. Neither will Trevor Booker (26 dunks), Jan Vesely (19), John Wall (16) or Nick Young (nine), who as a group would be far more entertaining. In fact, what if there were a team competition for the top pick in the NBA Draft? There’s no way the Wizards would lose.

Speaking of McGee — who would have accepted if he had been asked to participate this year — his wingspan (dunks on side-by-side hoops) and creativity (three balls at once) should have carried last year’s competition. Instead, the NBA showed what mattered wasn’t that Blake Griffin jumped over a car — rather, over the lower part of the hood — for his winning slam but that his dunk could be turned into a commercial.

Certainly, the blame for a lack of stars in the dunk contest year after year falls partly on the players themselves, who increasingly have seen it as too risky for their fragile egos, too much of a distraction or as a chance to get hurt.

But there’s even less incentive when the NBA rigs the game, and now it will pay the price. Reports of the names in the contest also have included desperate talk of Jeremy Lin’s involvement as an assistant to Shumpert. Even if there’s already another commercial in the works, the only way Lin could rescue the dunk contest is to be one of the contestants.

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