Posted February 05, 2014

All-Dunk Contest Team: How Adam Silver can save the All-Star’s showcase event

Ben Golliver, Blake Griffin, Gerald Green, John Wall, LeBron James, Paul George, Terrence Ross, The Point Forward All-Stars
Blake Griffin; LeBron James; Paul George

Adam Silver has to find a way to convince these three to dunk on All-Star Weekend. (Getty Images)

“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.”

LeBron James

This guy has never participated in the Slam Dunk Contest. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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.

RELATED: All-Sanctioned Team: Most fined players, coaches under Stern

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.

RELATED: The Fundamentals: Why isn’t DeAndre Jordan dominating defensively?

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.

19 comments
MartyJenkins
MartyJenkins

Simple - make it charity focused.... players would have to participate or face the stigma of not wanting to help a worthy cause.... would take care of a lot

joshua33nelson
joshua33nelson

Have the fans vote on who should be in.  Top ten have to participate (unless legitimate injury) or get fined.  Consider it part of the job duties.

iamHoraceKnight
iamHoraceKnight

Here Is the Simplest Fix:  If Sprite Isn't Willing to Offer a Better Reward(I think it was $50,00) find a better Sponsor.  


A Custom Made Truck or Car.  

$300,000 To A Charity Of Your Choice


zsmitson
zsmitson

whats crazy is gerald green can't even palm the ball. he's got a chopped finger on his right hand from when he was a kid and it got caught in the net (while dunking) i think. he just has mad crazy hops and still has awesome dunks

TheBrownMamba
TheBrownMamba

Lebron won't join the Slam Dunk contest. Cause he knows he won't win. His dunks are not for the contest.

hubrob107
hubrob107

The best dunkers aren't in the NBA....open the contest up to the BEST DUNKERS...put up some real money...you will have the BEST contest EVER

butter04
butter04

Well, that was disappointing. I was actually expecting some creative ideas for how to fix the dunk contest. But this article didn't actually talk about how to save the dunk contest, all it talked about what who should be involved this year. If Silver wants to save the dunk contest, he needs to do a lot more than just get stars in 2014, he needs to completely reformat the event. I'm going to go back to Bill Simmons now.

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

I remember when Darnell Hillman (IND?) won the first NBA dunk contest in the 70s.  It was interesting, but the game was cool, seeing the stars compete.


The dunk is passe, has been for quite some time now (Jordan?).  Those who run / own our sports are too often not sport fans and tinker to no good end.  MLB's time-honored All-Star game has now been ruined by the home run derby which even kids find to be a yawner.


Focus on the game (East v. West, not Magics v. Jordans) and stop dumbing-it-down for the kids who know better.  They want to look up to their heroes, not see them acting as, well, children.  It may be why LeBron disdains participation.  Let him disdain away, play the game and forget the dunk contest. 

nwaber
nwaber

How about tie the dunk contest to some sort of post-season benefit? For example, the winner of the dunk contest's team gets home court advantage in round one (if their record isn't already good enough for it). 


Or perhaps something nice for the following preseason, for example: the first preseason game for their team is played in the gym of that player's choosing, and they get to give out the first two rows of seats to whomever they want. If the player wants to play in MSG, MSG it is. If he wants the game played in his highschool gym in a town of 3000 in rural Idaho, make it happen (and maybe reinforce the backboards). Maybe someone would want to play at Rucker Park. That could be cool.


Or option 3: the winner of the dunk contest's team hosts the next year's all-star weekend.


Or option 4: the winner's team doesn't get scheduled to play on Christmas day, and can only be scheduled for home games for Dec 24th/26th.


Maybe all three. Telling a multigazillionaire like Lebron that he can have some more cash for doing the dunk contest is the wrong approach for two reasons: 1) he already has a LOT of money. A million dollars is still substantial, but not game-changing. 2) If he entered the dunk contest after being offered the million dollars, there would at least be the appearance that he entered because of the cash- not because of the competition, or the fans, or whatever else. He would presumably donate the money to some charity to show that he's not just money-hungry, but the optics are still suboptimal. Conversely, bringing a Miami Heat preseason game to his old highschool gym... that could be appealing.

Nate the Pate
Nate the Pate

That Griffin contest was so rigged, I started believing the NBA is fixed.  Ibaka and Derosen did some incredible dunks that were far better than the nonsense Griffin pulled.  Ibaka did a BEYOND free throw line dunk.  Can't mess with the Sponsors I suppose.  I bet if he missed all his dunks, the refs would have given him 10 minutes to try again - ala Birdman and Nate Robinson.

TrevorThompson
TrevorThompson

Start with $10M to the winner's charitable foundation.  Then get a full panel of judges who take it seriously, so you can make some better scoring system work.  The winner also gets a super bling'd title belt to wear at game introductions for the next year.

pipdmx33
pipdmx33

Is Nate Robinson too old? Add him in there. Fans love the 5'7 dunker. It's a shame that most of these guys are afraid of a little competition and rather be on the sideline wearing goofy clothes instead of competing.

myhandlerules
myhandlerules

I think most of us who aren't drooling sportswriters recognize that Griffin's dunk "over a car" was nothing special. It was a dull dunk over the hood of a car, which most NBA players could probably do. Hell, I'm a 5'9" non-NBA player, and I can jump over a car's hood with a running start.

Hollywood26
Hollywood26

@myhandlerules  It was LITERALLY the same dunk i did in 2003 at the Hoop It Up in DC.   I finished 3rd (by the way I'm 6'0)

BenchSplinters
BenchSplinters

@myhandlerules I agree 100% with that.  It was a shameless advertising stunt with no particular difficulty compared with several other dunks.