Improving the dunk contest
Aside from Sunday’s game, the marquee event of All-Star Weekend has been, and should always be, the slam dunk contest — the ultimate example of the grace and athleticism that makes basketball appealing. The NBA decided to go in a different direction with the slam dunk contest by having four obscure players who rarely dunk in games in the contest. The result was irrelevant because few will remember the winner. But the reason people still reminisce about Michael Jordan’s battle with Dominique Wilkins, Vince Carter’s between-the-legs dunk, Julius Erving’s free throw line dunk and even Blake Griffin’s over-the-car-alley-oop is because of the big names involved. Speculation has already begun that the NBA will eventually eliminate the contest. The league should really make a deeper investment. Much the same way Team USA became cool once Nike money got behind it, the NBA can save the dunk contest — and get LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and others to throw down — by offering a $1 million pot. The buzz will return to the event and so will the stars.