With all the added attractions to NBA All-Star Weekend (rookie-sophomore game, skills competition, etc.) everyone tunes in on Saturday night for the Slam Dunk competition. At its zenith during the mid to late eighties when great dunkers like Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan and Spud Webb went at it on a yearly basis, the league’s superstars began to shy away from the competition altogether in the early 90’s leaving fans to digest a contest featuring Clarence Weatherspoon and Tim Perry. Naturally the contest disappeared from All-Star weekend completely until Vince Carter brought it back with a bang in 2000. Dwight Howard and Nate Robinson put on a show the last few years, but there is one superstar that has not showcased his talents in the dunk contest. Here are my picks of who should step on the floor on All-Star Saturday night for this year’s main event.
4. JaVale McGee
This is my dark horse, as every dunk contest has one. McGee’s dunks are effortless whether it is at the end of an alley oop pass from John Wall or all alone in the paint. He gets so high over the rim he can surely do a lot of creative things in the contest.
3. J.R. Smith
Anyone that does a 360 in-game dunk off an alley oop pass needs to try that in a dunk contest. Even though he didn’t do well in his past appearance, his Tom Chambers-esque (see the old Lakers vs. Celtics video game) dunk over the San Antonio Spurs Gary Neal is proof he needs to give the contest another try.
2. LeBron James
After declaring during the 2009 All Star weekend that he would be in the 2010 contest, James was a no-show on the court in Dallas that Saturday night. He has been contemplating entering this year’s competition but has said to be having second thoughts due to wear and tear on his body. Like driving the lane getting slapped and bumped while finishing those and 1 baskets, taking off in the open court for a reverse double pump slam and catching alley oop dunks from Dwayne Wade isn’t wear and tear on those 26 year-old legs? Bottom line LeBron needs to enter the contest because a) all the high flying superstars in the league have taken part at one point during the beginning or prime of their careers: Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, etc., b) the world wants to see James in a dunk contest, and c) he promised (but that doesn’t mean anything to Cleveland fans).
1. Blake Griffin
The consensus rookie of the year without question has amassed at least one dunk highlight per game this season. The throw in dunk on Knicks rookie center Timofey Mozgov and the spinning one handed dunk on Danilo Gallinari alone should stamp his ticket in the competition.