February 01, 2002

Remember when the NBA slam-dunk contest was actually cool?: Remember when guys wanted to participate? Well, times have changed. This years event has just four contestants, of which only one is an all-star. Does anyone even care anymore, or is it time to put it out of its misery?

posted by justgary to basketball at 05:22 AM - 16 comments

You know, the NFL is filled with spoiled rich guys (paging Randy Moss) - but maybe it's because of how the contracts aren't guaranteed, or because you're part of a larger group, but basketball is PrimaDonnaLand. It seems they're willing to "just do enough" so they get minutes and a sneaker deal. Maybe this was underway for years but the Jordan Era just hid it from the sunshine? [when i am dictator i will issue a proclamation that all sports will unilaterally adopt the structure and contracts of the nfl]

posted by owillis at 05:33 AM on February 01, 2002

Oliver, you should be the nfl's PR man. =)

posted by justgary at 05:40 AM on February 01, 2002

No doubt, basketball has breeded a prima donna mentality, especially among youngsters who have yet to earn this status. Here's my theory about the dunk contest. After MJ won the dunk contest in '87 and '88, the ceiling had been reached. The dunk contest worked because it was so breathtaking and spectacular. When Jordan soared and went horizontal, people gasped. After that, everything else felt lame or merely identical to what had already been done. Brent Barry, please. Maybe Barry killed the contest, the prestige. It's one thing to say, I won the contest that Dr. J, Dominque Wilkins, and MJ won. But Brent Barry? Sure, Kobe and Vince were great when they won, but not breathtaking. We'd already seen the best a decade earlier. That's why the 3-point contest continues to be exciting. It doesn't rely on the visually spectacular. Like special effects in films, our senses become deadened. Wow, that's a lot to say about a dunk contest. I like The Franchise. He's Spud-like.

posted by jacknose at 06:43 AM on February 01, 2002

I don't care for it, there is only so many dunks you can do and variations on those. I'd rather see something like one-on-one competition.

posted by corpse at 08:02 AM on February 01, 2002

Kenny Smith said it two years ago - you've got to up the prize money. Tracy, Vince, Stevie and Kobe ? THAT would be a sick dunk contest.

posted by djacobs at 08:41 AM on February 01, 2002

I think they are all scared of Desmond Mason. I'm guarantee his victor right now.

posted by howa2396 at 09:01 AM on February 01, 2002

I think a lot of the players look at it as their best chance of getting hurt during all-star weekend. There's pretty much no chance of injury during the actual game -- there's only defense in the last two minutes of the game. If I were a player, I'm not sure I'd want to participate; where's the upside? (It's also possible that the owners don't want their superstars messing around for no reason.)

posted by MarkAnd at 09:16 AM on February 01, 2002

I thought there was an obvious decline in the quality of the dunk contest ever since the Isaiah "J.R." Rider year, but Vince Carter's recent performance made me pay attention again. I think the All-Star weekend is something that the players would rather treat as a "rest weekend", and as such, aren't really eager to participate in the various contests. Can you blame them? They play a pretty gruelling schedule, with lots of road travel and practices and whatnot. I'd take any chance I could for a break.

posted by Succa at 10:05 AM on February 01, 2002

I like the idea Dee Brown put forth that All-Stars would dunk with nothing at stake (except for pride, of course). I don't think you'd be able to get every player involved (although I'd love to see Mutombo's version of a 360-windmill ;->), but you would probably get some of the more acrobatic moves that you don't get with the present format. Who wouldn't want to see Bryant, Carter and maybe even Jordan take part in a contest together? This is why I like the NHL Skills Competition so much. So many All-Stars actually take part in it, giving it the feeling of the best against the best.

posted by bcb2k2 at 10:34 AM on February 01, 2002

Dee Brown! That was the year the contest started to suck -- the year he won.

posted by MarkAnd at 10:56 AM on February 01, 2002

Dee Brown was the sheezy!

posted by djacobs at 11:04 AM on February 01, 2002

Spud Webb. That's all I have to say. Spud Webb.

posted by BitterOldPunk at 01:16 PM on February 01, 2002

Spud was, no doubt, the best. Not only could he dunk, which was an achievement, but he did it with such mad style. Jordan was impressive, but the contest that Spud won was my all-time favorite. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing.

posted by jacknose at 01:33 PM on February 01, 2002

Speaking of Bill Simmons (well, we are now at least), he had an interesting idea from a week ago on how to revitalize the slam dunk contest. One word: HORSE Yep, HORSE. See, basketball players of all ages and skills love to play HORSE- even the pros play it during their pre-game warmups. It's a chance to show off that eerily accurate half-court shot or super-mad slam dunk you never have a chance to in a real contest, and win eternal bragging rights- at least until the next game. Unlike the slam-dunk or 3-point contest, it's a game the average fan can relate to and enjoy; remember that popular series of Jordan-Bird HORSE commercials from the early 90's (over the scoreboard, off the rim, nothing but net)? It combines the best of all the All-Star competitions- the 3 points contest, the dunk contest- and perhaps most importantly, it's a game the players would likely want to play- even the best players would want a chance to show up their fellow star. The article was meant partly in jest, this being the [Boston] Sports Guy and all, but honestly- I think it's a great idea that should seriously be considered.

posted by hincandenza at 06:02 PM on February 01, 2002

Dee Brown was cool, but only because he pumped up his Reeboks before the dunk. I thought Vince Carter was going to save the dunk contest - but I guess not. Desmond Mason is the shoe-in this year.

posted by catatonic at 06:50 PM on February 02, 2002

The problem was that Jordan set an example for everyone else in the league to follow by stopping his participation in the dunk contest. I think the reason he gave was he didn't want the focus to be on him instead of the team, but it was also widely understood that he didn't want to risk getting hurt. Since then, it has become OK for other stars to follow his example.

posted by joehyuk at 12:46 AM on February 05, 2002

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