There’s no doubt that changes to the NBA Slam Dunk Contest were needed. After a long run of captivating audiences, the contest had grown stale over the last few years. The main problem? A lack of stars in the event. NBA All-Star weekend is all about the stars, yet the dunk contest has only featured one or two big stars per year over the last half decade, if any.
But after lots of complaining by many across the basketball world, the stars are back. Paul George will headline this year’s group, which also features John Wall, Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes, Terrence Ross and Ben McLemore.
Most basketball fans know who all of those players are. That’s a win. Where the NBA blew it, is when it decided to change the rules of the dunk contest. Now, the six players will be broken up into two teams of three: East vs. West.
A team dunk competition? Lame. Don’t worry though, the fans still get to choose the ‘dunker of the night’ at the event’s conclusion…
The rule changes work like this:
Round 1: A ‘freestyle round’ where all the dunkers from each teams are on the court at once. The participants get 90 seconds to dunk as many times as possible. The judges will pick a winner based on which team impressed them the most.
Round 2: A ‘battle round’ where participants from each team are paired to face off in head-to-head competition. The loser of the battle is eliminated from the competition. This continues until one team wins three battles.
So there you have it, the new format for the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. On the surface, I really hate the new team concept. I’m willing to give it a shot, but to me it’s just not what a dunk contest should be all about. It’s an event about individual performances and it’s possible that those will get lost in the team concept.
I believe the league would have been best served to just upgrade the participants this year. If that didn’t fix the staleness, then they could have gone for the format changes next year. I don’t see why all the changes had to come at once.
But as long as people are entertained, I suppose that’s the bottom line.