The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is the second most important event at All-Star Weekend next to the All-Star Game itself. For years fans looked forward to an exciting competition between the league’s most ferocious and graceful dunkers. The event has not lived up to the hype created by superstars like Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Vince Carter and Shawn Kemp. Somewhere along the line stars decided that the contest was beneath them even though they had no problem putting on dunking exhibitions during pregame warm-ups with thousands of witnesses.
2014 could the year of change for the dunk contest. The lineup for the event is as good as it has been in over a decade. The contestants will be Paul George, Damian Lillard, John Wall, Harrison Barnes, rookie Ben McLemore and defending champion Terrance Ross. George is clearly the favorite to win by comparing the athleticism of the contenders, but their names are what makes it more interesting. Don’t get me wrong; the other guys are talented as well. Their creativity will be their greatest advantage even if they are the underdogs.
Lillard, along with contending in the dunk contest, will also take part in the Three-Point Contest and the Skills Challenge before coming off the bench for the Western Conference All-Stars on Sunday night. It will be interesting to see how many of these events he can win.
The sports world is wondering if the star power of the event will ultimately bring the contest back to be being a respectable competition. I say let us not let our expectations put a damper on the excitement of this year’s event. Although, one has to figure it will draw a lot of attention and maybe open a few eyes. We might not ever see LeBron James and Kevin Durant contend for the slam-dunk crown, but you figure that the courage of George and the other contestants would inspire some of the other players to step up in the near future.