Opinion: NBA Dunk Contest: Getting better, but not great yet

Michael Moses

Remember the days when competing in the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend meant you were as cool as Justin Bieber in a Limited Too store?

I don’t.

Nowadays, you can throw down a reverse dunk in a game and the selection committee says, “Hmmm, LeBron isn’t doing it this year. Let’s get that guy. What’s his name?”

It stinks. It’s unfair to the fans and unfair to the league. This event should single-handedly make NBA All-Star Weekend. Instead, it makes it for the wrong reasons.

This year, however, one name might bring the dunk contest back to where it was, say, in the early 2000s.

Blake Griffin, the rookie power forward from the Los Angeles Clippers, is the Mufasa of this year’s competition.

Although Griffin is only half a season into his career, he already has a highlight tape that would make Vince Carter drool.

The Blake Show is beginning to rival The Lake Show in Los Angeles. This contestant is the lone reason why people are going to turn the dunk contest on.

He’s a freak, dunking on anyone that stands in his path.

I’m pumped to see this 21-year old man-child dominate the field.

The only other dunker worth noting is DeMar DeRozan, a second-year player from the Toronto Raptors (watch out for him, he’s been on highlight reels since he was in middle school).

The field concludes with Washington Wizards forward JaVale McGee and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka.

I’m not saying these guys can’t dunk — they definitely can — but they’re not well known. Sure, it gives them a chance to break onto the national stage, but wouldn’t fans rather see players such as LeBron James, Josh Smith and Dwyane Wade?

Something tells me that they might draw a little more attention to the event as opposed to McGee and Ibaka.

Lately, I’d be willing to bet the judges of the dunk contest could honestly do better in the competition than the actual contestants. Legends such as Julius Erving and Dominique Wilkins have been forced to sit there and judge players such as Jamario Moon, Tyrus Thomas and Chris Andersen.

C’mon, man!

What happened to athletic 2-guards in the dunk contest?

Why do centers and power forwards compete?

Even when Dwight Howard was in it, a big name All-Star, there wasn’t a lot of flair. Howard was a 6’11” center who just jumped high with a Superman cape on.

When can we get back to the Jason Richardson, Vince Carter and Steve Francis kind of dunkers?

Nate Robinson was cool for a while, but you can only see a 5’9” guy do the same dunk so many times. The fact that he is a three-time NBA Slam Dunk champion makes me proud because of the height factor, but should embarrass the rest of the NBA.

Since 2003 (post-Richardson era, the last solid slam-dunker) look at the Slam Dunk champions: Fred Jones, Josh Smith, Robinson, Gerald Green and Howard. Really?

We can’t get superstars in the mix because they’re afraid of injury?

Was Michael Jordan afraid of hurting himself?

When the field went from six dunkers to four in ’02, the thrill of the competition began to dwindle. I, like many NBA fans, want that feeling back. LeBron James flirted with the media, said he would enter his name in the competition, and of course, backed out.

Wouldn’t the 2012 event be a dream contest if James, Wade, Derrick Rose, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith and Griffin were in it?

I’d say so. And The Blake Show would probably win that battle, too.

Contact Michael Moses at [email protected].