The 4 Players Who Should’ve Been In The 2012 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

The field is set for the 2012 NBA Dunk Contest, and… Jeremy Lin will be there! Ah, not what you might expect though. He’s been included to be the helper for his teammate, Iman Shumpert. Joining Shumpert in the dunking field will be Chase Budinger, Derrick Williams and Paul George. Underwhelming? As SBNation’s Mike Prada tweeted, these four are tied for 41st, 45th, 97th and 149th in dunks this season. That doesn’t mean it’ll be a weak contest, but it’s leaning that way.

Those four could make for a great event. But people want to see the biggest names. The dunk contest won’t ever be totally back until that happens.

Every year, the most hyped, marquee event during All-Star Weekend is the slam dunk contest. The dunk is to basketball what an ingenious rhyme is to rap: that singular highlight that raises the bar of creativity and excitement amongst the participants, while those in the arena or surrounding the cypher simply marvel in admiration. Over the past few seasons, the dunk contest has brought us moments like Krypto-Nate dunking over Superman, Serge Ibaka rescuing a kid’s teddy bear, and, of course, Earthquake Blake jumping over a whip. And yes, many would say that the dunk contest isn’t what it used to be, but with the right cats chosen it very well could be. If David Stern knew what was right for the game, these next four studs should’ve been representing the league in Orlando for a dunk contest renaissance.

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4. DeAndre Jordan
While last year’s dunk contest featured three bigs as contestants, none of them – outside of maybe Earthquake Blake – come close to matching the raw athleticism that DeAndre Jordan possesses. With a crazy wingspan of 7-6, standing reach of 9-6 and weighing 265 pounds, Jordan has unlimited bounce for a seven footer. At the center position, only Dwight Howard can compete with Jordan as a physical specimen. Most people are just catching on to how much of a beast Jordan is as the Clippers are now relevant due to CP3 as their MVP candidate. He started off the year with a monstrous dunk fest on those hated Lakers with two of the top five dunks of the preseason. Since then, he has made the Raptors extinct, and showed capital punishment to the Wizards. It is because of these jams that his in-game dunks are overall better than even when Blake explodes like this. Now should’ve been the time for DeAndre Jordan to invade Orlando and showcase Lob City to the whole world.

3. Russell Westbrook
In 2009, the league allowed fans the chance to vote in the fourth dunker for the slam dunk contest, and somehow Rudy Fernandez won. Three years later and I’m still trying to figure out how the hell Rudy got more votes than Russell Westbrook – unless all of Spain voted him in. Whether it was then or right now, Westbrook clearly is one of the most athletic cats to play the point. Going back to his college days at UCLA, he has had a knack for posterizin’ those much taller than him; just ask no-names like Jamal Boykin and LeKendric Longmire.

Westbrook’s max vertical of 36.5 inches and a rangy 6-8 wingspan to go along with his acceleration speed, clocked at 3.08 seconds within the three-quarters court drill before the draft, makes him a nightmare on the break. This mix of Stevie Franchise-esque springs and zoom of the next cat on this list are what warrants his participation in the dunk contest. It’s a bad mistake he was omitted in ’09. He should’ve been given the chance to show why he was placed amongst the line of great Russells that Kanye mentioned in “Illest Mother$^#&er Alive.”

2. John Wall
Considering how bad of a season the Wizards have had thus far (7-23), it comes as no surprise that the label of the Washington Generals gets thrown at them so often. What’s not funny is how hard John Wall keeps ballin’ in spite of the lack of team success and the coaching change. Coast to coast, there isn’t another player in the league that could win a foot race with the rock against him. Having had the opportunity to watch him live in person at The Pyramid in Long Beach for the Goodman League versus Drew League rematch, Wall’s burst of speed and insane agility was like watching extraterrestrial activity in real life. I recall closing my eyes for a split second, then opening to see a reflection of his nasty lob as he did the Dougie. A surreal experience. The fact that he routinely dunks viciously with his left with complete disregard of who is in front of him is something that isn’t seen from the average high-fly act.

Wall’s ambidextrousness would prove to be advantageous in the slam dunk contest setting, particularly since he’ll add flair to it with his fun nature. Likewise, we’ve already recognized him as the breakout player of the year in Dime #66, and what an ideal stage this could’ve been to revive an entire Reebok brand back into the mainstream. Wall’s addition could’ve been a remix version of Dee Brown‘s classic moment; Kanye would then think twice before dissing Reebok again about whether they “ever had shoes without shoestrings.”

1. LeBron James
C’mon, who else would it be? Earthquake Blake had a spectacular showing last year and doesn’t need to defend his dunk crown, similar to when Kobe did it and Half-Man, Half-Amazing. Since entering the league, nobody has faced, and lived up, to the expectations like LeBron James has. With all his innate talent, LeBron’s gift to dominate a basketball game is also a curse as others continually thirst for any reason – real or imaginative – to criticize and hate his every move. At 6-9 (screw what the NBA tells us) and 260 pounds (again), it’s hard for anyone not to want more from a player so unique no one in NBA history has ever possessed the same package of physical traits and skill. Nevertheless, besides getting his first ring, fans have always wanted to “witness” him take over and show off his insane hops in the slam dunk contest. And the fact that he has teased us so many times and flaked at the last minute, it has only added to the ire the public has for him.

It’s difficult to explain the underlying reason why LeBron has dodged this event. Perhaps he’s right and he is only an in-game dunker. Perhaps the watered-down competition and lack of bread isn’t a good enough incentive. Or perhaps LeBron does have too much to lose. Whatever the case may be, the laundry list of excuses from his part has to stop. One would think because he’s appeared in Sprite commercials as a rookie ’till now, they would’ve made a clause in his endorsement contract or dole out enough cheese to have their main spokesman represent their brand in their own sponsored event. Hell, even Nike would do.

Bottom line, LeBron is too great of a player, athlete and dunker to not at least partake in one slam dunk contest in his career. A victory would easily place him in the pantheon of all-time greats who have shut down All-Ntar Saturday night – be it Mike in the dunk contest, Larry Legend in the three-point shootout, and I’m sure Magic would’ve joined the skills challenge if they had it in his day. All LeBron has to do is lace up his NASA-themed “all-star” joints and lift off, taking the dunk contest into a whole other stratosphere.

What do you think of the field they chose?

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