The NBA has announced the 2014 Dunk Contest participants, and unlike in earlier years, stars abound. We’ve already detailed Damian Lillard‘s participation and another nice surprise from earlier today â€” since it was reported before he had rejected an invite â€” was Paul George. A third All-Star that will be playing the next day in the main event, John Wall, will also be joining them. The Dubs’ second year wing Harrison Barnes, defending champion Terrence Ross and rookie Ben McLemore round out the 2014 Dunk Contest cast. But there’s even more to get excited about besides the characters involved.
We’re not gonna lie, we’ve just watched the highlights of the dunk contest for the last couple years. It’s not that we were too busy, we just hated what it had become: a sluggish, unoriginal snooze-fest. But there are some massive changes to this year’s contest on Sturday, February 16.
First, the six participants will be split by their conference, with Wall, Ross and George making up the East’s team and Barnes, Lillard and McLemore making up the West. A 90-second “freestyle” section will start things off. Each dunker will have the alloted time to complete as many dunks as possible in front of the judges. Think of it as the greatest pre-game layup line ever.
The judges select which team wins the first round. The winning team chooses to go first or second in the next round. The next so-called “battle” round will feature two players paired in one-on-one contests where the winner moves on and the loser is eliminated. The first team to win three rounds is crowned the 2014 Dunk Contest champion.
This is vastly different from previous years, which have crawled along at a snail’s pace as participants tried to set up more and more elaborate jams using props, and â€” as Paul George recently pointed out on Kimmel â€” celebrity stand-ins.
Not this year. The freestyle competitions and one-on-one battles will jolt the contest with some much-needed energy. The NBA has tinkered with the format in the past, but never this extreme. We think it’s a great move and sure to be a success, but not just because every name fills us with a lot of excitement.