The NBA All-Star Saturday Night events took place last evening. The four events were capped off by the most confusing dunk contest ever to take place.
Rather than the traditional format where participants took turns and were rated on each dunk, with the winners advancing to the next round, this years competition was broken into two teams. The East versus the West, similar to all the other events from Saturday night.
The teams consisted of John Wall, reigning dunk champion Terrence Ross, and Paul George on the East. The West was made up of Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes, and Ben McLemore. The two teams were given 90-seconds of freestyle dunking to determine the order of the competition.
It was underwhelming as both sides randomly tried to get in a few quick dunks in the alloted time. Each player more or less ended with about two dunks apiece. The East won the opening round by actually working together and putting on something resembling a show (think mascots with a trampoline, sans the trampoline).
This set up the “Battle Round” which was a little bit more like the traditional contest, with each participant allowed three attempts to pull off their dunk. The East won all three battles, although Lillard should have taken down Ross.
Here are the highlights from the event. Skip to 1:12 to see George’s dunk.
Wall was named Sprite Dunker of the Night by the fans. To his credit he did complete a very impressive dunk on the first attempt. Had George done his in one, there’s no doubt that a 360, between the legs dunk would have won it. Julius “Dr. J” Erving described the dunk as “sick.”
This event lacked the build up and anticipation of previous contests. Coupled with the fact that it didn’t start until 10:40 when half the country was asleep and it was very disappointing. After the East “won,” I expected to see Wall, George, and Ross go head-to-head to come away with a real winner, instead they left it up to the fans and the dunk contest was suddenly over.
Twitter was overloaded with tweets of “That’s it?” While the ratings might turn out to be fairly good, the event was incredibly boring and all the hype led up to nothing.
The dunk contest has lost a lot of its appeal, mostly due to the best dunkers in the game not participating. ESPN praised a video of LeBron James pulling off crazy dunks in practice, but no one would criticize him for not participating in the contest.
It would be easy to fix this years mess by simply going back to the old format. There were six players on the court who can pull off impressive dunks, and had it been the traditional style contest fans would have been treated to something special.
Don’t expect George to participate in this kind of farce again. He indicated that he had “more up his sleeve” but overall this was a disappointing contest. I for one was looking forward to about four impressive dunks from the same man who broke out a 360-dunk in a game. I was disappointed that I stayed up to watch the event.