Can the NBA Dunk Contest Get Worse?

Can the Dunk Contest get worse? That’s the big question after this weekend’s NBA All-Star festivities.

David Stern

David Stern

This year’s dunk contest is technically over. Technically because there aren’t any more dunks that are going to happen. In reality, the dunk contest never started because the All-Star Weekend brass decided to get creative and try not having it this year. Either that, or in a bizarre act of experimental sabotage, David Stern played the Grinch that Stole the Dunk Contest just before he left office.

The Dunk Contest is the only event that matters outside of the All-Star Game itself, and this year the NBA thought up a brand new format that ensured no one would have any fun. Actually, the whole conference-based teams for the various contests would have been cool if it meant anything, so I don’t want to trash that too much. It didn’t mean anything and it wasn’t cool, but the idea wasn’t horrible.

In three of the four All-Star Saturday Night events, the participants from each conference competed against each other until there was one East winner and one West winner, who went head-to-head for the event title. In the Dunk Contest, one conference was named the winner after 10 minutes and then the whole thing just ended like that. This was the sixth dunk we saw. And it was the last.

Of course, the worst possible scenario happened in the East-West head-to-head dunk-offs. The East swept all three and that was it. Six dunkers, six dunks, zero joy. No second round, no finals, no anything. Just one dunk each.

John Wall’s dunk was the best of the three (Paul George was a close second and Terrence Ross was denied the chance to defend a title he sort of legitimately won last year) so we just handed him the trophy and left it at that.

It’s bad that we only got to see one dunk per person. It’s worse that all three of the East dunkers (and all three of the West dunkers too) had to leave their best dunks in their pockets, saved up for a second (or even third) round that never happened.

This year did take a step in the right direction with three NBA legends acting as judges for the initial round, but the champion was still determined via fan vote. That’s right, we let the same people who just voted Kobe Bryant into the starting lineup of the All-Star Game pick the winner.

The actual judges were the sole step forward this year. They really screwed it up by taking away the scoring system and making it head-to-head, but let’s celebrate the small victories, right?

Can the Dunk Contest get worse? It seems like they’re trying. If Adam Silver is listening, here are my ideas for regression in 2015:

  • Fans just vote without the dunks: This keeps all the uselessness of fan voting, but eliminates the inconvenience of actually dunking
  • Let's just leave it up to chance

    Let’s just leave it up to chance

    Dunkers picked out of a hat: This method would still take the dunking out of the contest and might create a great new hat sponsorship opportunity

  • All Dunkers jump over a Kia: The worst winning dunk ever, repeated over and over again until the arena implodes from all the sponsoring
  • Dunkin’ Donuts Contest: No more basketballs, participants will just dunk doughnuts. If you think all of the creative ways to dunk a basketball have been executed, wait until you see how quickly we run through the doughnut  ideas
  • Lower the rims to 8 feet: It would be like when I was 10 and used to go over to Ben Kramer’s house to jam on the four-foot hoop in the basement
  • Trampolines: Actually, just play turn the whole game into a Slamball event
  • NBA/WNBA partner dunks: Like the Shooting Stars competition, pair the NBA stars with a WNBA player for a tandem jam/layup, sort of like synchronized slamming
  • Costume Contest: No dunking, just award points based on number and quality of external props on the court. We were dangerously close to this actually happening a couple of years ago

But seriously, what’s wrong with this: five judges (each dunk gets scored 6-10), three dunks per contestant in the first round, two highest combined scores advance to the finals where they get two more dunks, highest score wins?