When the NBA announced its plans for a condensed, one-day All-Star that would feature the Skills Competition and Three-Point Shootout on Sunday before the All-Star Game and the Dunk Contest at halftime, there was a wonder of whether that would entice more All-Stars to participate or if the empty arena festivities would push them away.
The answer seems to be the latter, at least as it relates to the Dunk Contest, where Obi Toppin, Cassius Stanley, and Anfernee Simons are the three reported participants as of now. There was hope that Zion Williamson, a first-time All-Star, would bring some added juice to the competition by entering his name in the ring after other top stars turned it down, but after being coy about his plans last week, the sophomore sensation has indeed turned down the invitation, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson will not participate in the Slam Dunk Contest in Atlanta this Sunday, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) March 2, 2021
The NBA may very well just go forward with the three participants, rather than four as is customary, given the strange circumstances of this year’s competition — and that it might help speed things up for a halftime show. Williamson, obviously, would have given the competition star power it desperately craved this year, but while there are some who worry this may be an indicator that Zion will never participate in the Dunk Contest, I wouldn’t be so sure, given he had no reason to participate in the McDonald’s All-American Dunk Contest as a senior star but did so and won with ease.