All-Dunk Contest Team: How Adam Silver can save the All-Star’s showcase event
“The Point Forward All-Stars” will have a new theme each week centered on a single shared trait that brings together the team members. This week, we present The All-Dunk Contest Team, a six-man dream lineup of the best active dunkers in the NBA.
Previously: The All-Grateful Team | The East’s All-Letdown Team | The All-Atrocious Team | The All-Ignored Team | The All-Stocking Stuffer Team | The All-Recalibration Team | The All-Payday Team | The All-Gridiron Team | The All-Sanctioned Team
The ink wasn’t even dry on outgoing NBA commissioner David Stern’s thoughtful “farewell” email to the media before the conversation had already shifted to the challenges and opportunities facing his successor, Adam Silver.
David Aldridge made a strong, clear case for Silver to find a way to return a team to Seattle. Ken Berger noted that the success of Silver’s tenure could hinge on the league’s continued quest for global marketing domination. Howard Beck interviewed NBA players, executives, fans, owners and agents to come up with a laundry list of issues for Silver to address, which included a number old favorites like flopping, tanking, instant replay, and the age limit.
Allow me to add a more lighthearted, but nevertheless pressing, agenda item: Please, Mr. Silver, fix the Slam Dunk Contest and save All-Star Weekend.
Executives like Stern and Silver spend months, years, sometimes even decades trying to build a consensus on hot button issues. Guess what? A strong consensus on the Slam Dunk Contest already exists: it’s fun, but it would be so, so, so, so much better if the stars participated.
Everyone agrees with this. I agree with this. You agree with this. The most die-hard NBA fan you know agrees with this (even if he might try to pseudo-intellectually claim that “Jeremy Evans actually is a great dunker” before relenting). Casual NBA fans agree with this (Dwight Howard knew what he was doing when he donned the Superman cape in 2008, as did Blake Griffin, when he vaulted over the hood of a Kia in 2011).
Even Kevin Durant, the favorite to win the 2014 MVP award, agrees with this.
“It’s time for LeBron James, Mr. [Russell] Westbrook, Mr. [Derrick] Rose and Dwyane Wade to get in the Dunk Contest,” Durant tweeted in 2012.
NBA legend Magic Johnson, whose “Showtime” Lakers ran concurrently with the Dunk Contest’s best years, agrees with this.
“Please, LeBron, get in the dunk contest,” Johnson said last year on ESPN. “I’m going to put up a million dollars. A million dollars from Magic to LeBron. Please get in the dunk contest. I go every year. I want to see you out there. A million to the winner.”
Bill Simmons, perhaps the NBA media’s leading voice, has agreed with this — and pushed for reforms — for at least a decade.
Let’s daydream and imagine a hypothetical world in which Silver made fixing the Slam Dunk Contest his top priority when he found out in Oct. 2012 that Stern was planning to step down. Let’s say he privately met with stars like James and Griffin, asking them what it would take — financially or otherwise — to secure their participation and begin the planning. Let’s say he then met with executives from the league’s leading global advertising partners and secured a massive prize money pot that ensured a major pay day for the Slam Dunk Contest winner and seven figures minimum to each of the participants.
Let’s say the culmination of that groundwork came on Thursday, when Silver joined TNT’s “Inside The NBA” set to reveal a bona fide, no weak links, star-studded, A-list dream team field of Slam Dunk Contest competitors, the type of list that would leave even Charles Barkley at a loss for words. And, let’s say that Silver dropped the mic by saying: “I want to be known as the man who saved the Slam Dunk Contest.”
Imagine if that happened! He would be the most popular sports commissioner ever. Fans would hail the dawning of a new era and flood YouTube with teaser videos hyping each of the candidates. NBA players would surely share in the excitement. Twitter would definitely crash, but not before Silver was the subject of at least six trending topics simultaneously. A Change.org petition demanding Silver’s immediate election into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame would be circulating within 24 hours. Barack Obama would phone his congratulations to Silver, or write Silver a hand-written note of gratitude, or invite Silver to the White House for a game of one-on-one. Hell, maybe all three. Just imagine the ramifications if this happened.
Fixing the Dunk Contest might not carry the gravity of a new arena deal, or the return of the SuperSonics, or improving the D-League, but the digitally-savvy Silver must understand that we are smack dab in the middle of the dunk’s golden age. Whether you are James, Griffin, a relatively anonymous NBA player, a Division III walk-on, a high school phenom, a 20-something jumping into a pool, or a middle schooler pranking his friend in the hallway, you now have the chance to reach a global audience if you execute a great dunk. If it’s forceful, creative, funny or new, your dunk has a chance to be viewed by millions of people worldwide, in their offices and in their homes, on their computers, tablets and phones, on Vine, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, whatever. The world has never been flatter — and the distance between supply and demand has never been shorter — for posterizations, 360s and whatever else you can come up with. Isn’t “right now, right here” the perfect time and place for a Slam Dunk Contest revival?
Here’s my dream six-man field for the 2014 Slam Dunk Contest. The real field will be announced on Thursday.