Why the NBA Slam Dunk Contest sucked and ways to make it better (video)

Look at the fans in those old videos. Heck, look at the players. They were on the edge of their seats, writhing with each performance. This Saturday, however, the fans didn’t rise. They didn’t OOH, they didn’t AHH and they didn’t high five. They appeared more interested in the nearest after-party, which was undoubtedly more exciting.

Dwight Howard’s Superman cape was kitschy and I could watch 5-foot-9 Nate dunk for hours… but a three-time champion? That’s a slap in the face of his dunking forefathers.

I mean just look at this…

Something needs to be done to bring excitement back to the competition… and soon. I’m not saying participation should be mandatory, but remember the eighth and final rule of Fight Club. If this is your first night at Fight Club… you have to fight. You can’t go down as one of the greatest dunkers of all time without winning, or even participating in the contest. Listening, LeBron?

I wrote last month that LeBron James let us all down by not participating and I meant every word of it. Twitter was flooded with disappointed fans blasting James for his disappearing act. Did he ever give us a reason for his absence? It wasn’t injury, was it? Has anyone actually ever been injured during the proceedings? I can see baseball players not wanting to participate in the Home Run Derby because it affects their swing, but LeBron already dunks harder than anyone in the league anyway.

So suit up. LBJ could single-handedly revive the competition and make it the most watched All-Star weekend in history. We’re all craving it. Let us witness.

I’ve seen LeBron land dunks in the practice gym where he stands at the three-point line, throws the ball over the backboard high against the back wall. As the ball bounces back onto the court, LeBron catches it, windmills it and dunks it while his teammates gasp in awe. Even the McDonald’s marketing brass didn’t think of that for Michael and Larry back in the day. Maybe LeBron thought Bird was talking to him when he said “No dunking!”

After Saturday night’s lackluster competition, Kenny Smith said there is a D-League player who could do a legitimate 720-degree dunk. Like the rest of America, I asked myself WHY THE HECK IS THIS GUY NOT IN THE COMPETITION? Why were we just subjected to the b-version?

Here’s a suggestion. Have the NBDL guys square off against the NBA players. Or better yet, if the pros don’t want to get shown up… er, participate, just have NBDL players compete against the And-1 guys. I’m sure they’d LOVE to make a name for themselves in front of a national audience, particularly if it meant the possibility of securing an NBA contract. How long is Nate going to have to carry the crown?

Hey, I’m not bitter (yes, I am). But if the NBA’s not interested in keeping my attention, I can always find something better to do next Valentine’s Day. The Dunk Competition, albeit in the middle of an exhibition weekend, is still one of the NBA’s greatest traditions. If the league doesn’t do something about it soon, I won’t be the only one not watching.

Watching the NBA’s Slam Dunk contest has always been a tradition for me. I haven’t missed a single one in over 20 years. The names of former champions Erving, Jordan, Ceballos, Nance, Carter, Wilkins and Webb ring proudly like a who’s who of elevator men. Their creativity, desire and athleticism was unrivaled in the years they were proudly crowned dunk kings. But things have changed in 2010. This weekend the contest flat out sucked and I’m the biggest NBA apologist out there.

I’ve alienated many a girlfriend on Valentine’s Days past, choosing to watch the Slam Dunk Contest over a romantic night out. Or I’d slyly try to work the competition into the evening. Sir, may we have a table for two… preferably with a TV in view? Oh, but come on, baby. It’s Dominique versus Michael!

You know what, though? They’d watch. Because back then it was exciting.

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