Let’s face it. The dunk contest is simply not what it used to be.
This past Saturday’s dunk contest was just not good. There were four guys who participated: Chase Budinger of the Houston Rockets, Derrick Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers and the winner, Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz.
The entire thing was decided by a vote from the fans. Evans won, receiving 29 percent of the vote, which means it was a very close decision. That decision, however, didn’t mean there were so many good dunks the fans couldn’t decide. It was more like which dunker gave the best effort and used the most creative prop.
You have to hand it to Evans in the creativity department. He dunked two basketball at once, donned a Karl Malone jersey that was hand delivered by none other than comedian Kevin Hart. For the mailman dunk, he even had a camera on his head. Aside from all of the cool and creative props, the dunks weren’t that impressive or exciting. The dunk he did with a camera on his head, there’s a good chance some of the students at the rec-centers could do.
The major problem standing in the way is clearly the lack of star power. Are any of the players who competed this year big-time talents? Probably not. Guess how many points Jeremy Evans averages per game? We bet you didn’t answer 1.7.
Back in the late '80s it was a dog-fight to win the contest. The absolute best dunkers came out to showcase what they had. Would any of the guys in this year’s contest even held a candle to the likes of Michael Jordan or Dominique Wilkins? Or even Spud Webb for that matter? Probably not.
So the question is how does the NBA get those big names into the contest and get the excitement levels back up? Well, we’re glad you asked because we’ve come up with the answer.
Money. It makes the world go round. We’re not saying pay the players. We all know they have enough money as it is.
How about this though: the main sponsor, Sprite, ponies up a $1-2 million prize. Then the winner takes that money and donates it to the charity of his choice. During the contest, the dunker has a child representative from that charity wearing his jersey and is on the court with him. That way the charity gets some face-time and publicity, while we as fans get to watch the best dunkers in the league to put on a show. Who says no to that idea? Probably not many people.
For those of you who do, visualize this and answer again.
LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Russel Westbrook and Blake Griffin. They’re standing out there at center court with their charity-based mascot child in their jersey standing beside them. Two million dollars on the line.
Who’s not watching that? People who don’t love large charity donations and monster dunks from the most athletic players on the entire planet. That’s who. And there probably aren’t very many of those around, so let’s get it going. Your move, NBA commissioner David Stern.