The NBA’s All-Star Weekend dunk contest has become somewhat of a broken record. What is supposed to be the most exciting event of an exciting weekend is slowly becoming more monotonous each year.
I’m not sure whether or not the participants understand that the concept is to go into the contest with dunks that you have done before — or at least dunks you know you’re capable of — but the fact of the matter is they need a reality check. Hyping up the crowd is cool and all, but did Josh Smith really think he could dunk from the top of the key? Going out in front of a packed arena and doing the first dunk that comes to mind is ruining a very precious NBA pastime.
Frankly, the NBA needs to start doing the dunk contest justice and turning it back into what it used to be, and players need to start taking it more seriously. Fans don’t want to sit through 15 dunk attempts only to be rewarded by a pedestrian “I don’t know what else to do” finish. Then what kills me about the entire thing is that those pedestrian dunks are still getting 10’s! With the exception of Dwight Howard‘s “Superman” campaign and Nate Robinson‘s “Krypto-Nate” outing, the dunk contest has been lacking the memorable performances that my generation grew up watching. Thankfully, a few players have proved capable of putting on a memorable show thus far this season. Here are my early picks for the 2011 dunk contest:
Shannon Brown (Lakers) — Despite a disappointing performance in last year’s contest, Shannon is without a doubt one of the NBA’s best dunkers. I don’t know if he just didn’t practice last year, but it looked as if Shannon wasn’t quite sure how to display his incredible athleticism. Now that he has his feet wet on the big stage, look for him to be a little more comfortable out there if he’s selected. Anyone who puts up jaw-dropping jams like the ones Shannon delivers has a chance to put on a pretty good show.
Terrence Williams (Nets) — Although he has had a rocky season, recently being sent down to the NBA’s D-League, T-Will’s reputation as a high flyer is notorious. His athletic ability has been compared to greats like LeBron and D-Wade; electrifying jams are T-Will’s specialty. A big part of the selection process is choosing players that will put forth their best effort, and there is no question that T-Will will take it upon himself to put on a show for fans around the globe.
Eric Gordon (Clippers) — Who knew Gordon could jump like this? Sure, he could always jump, but when did he make the transition from being a good dunker to an exceptional dunker? Among guards in the League, Gordon is getting more highlight dunks than anyone this season, surprising those who thought he was just a shooter. The dunk contest needs Gordon because he is one of those players capable of adding creativity to his athleticism. Having agility in the air is a key factor, and Gordon has that, too.
Blake Griffin (Clippers) — If there is one obvious choice for the 2011 dunk contest, it’s Griffin. Freak athleticism and power like his is exactly what fans are looking for in the dunk contest. I don’t think anyone knows how high Griffin can really jump, because it seems like he just gets higher and higher on his jams. His compilation of highlight dunks this season have been some of the most incredible ever for a rookie. People were beyond impressed when Dwight Howard threw the ball through the rim in his superman cape during the ’08 contest, but Griffin did it in an actual game when he put poor Timofey Mozgov‘s head right under his crotch as he soared through the air for the throw-in. Who knows what he could bring to the table under the bright lights of the dunk contest.