Most Improved Player Rankings: Slam Dunk Contest Decidedly Unimproved

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dunksThis column is supposed to be about improvement, so let’s start it off by declaring that Saturday night’s Slam Dunk Contest was without a doubt the most un-improved thing in the history of All-Star Weekend.

Seriously, what the hell happened there?

After Paul George, John Wall and Damian Lillard – three bona fide stars in the league – actually decided that being considered one of the world’s best dunkers wasn’t beneath them, the league chucked a Snuggie into the Atlantic Ocean and then wrung it out all over the historic Smoothie King Center.

Wet blanket. That’s what I’m trying to say. It was a wet blanket.

And to think, I was excited for the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night!

I rushed home from work, shunned the Olympics and the Florida-Kentucky game and flipped on TNT for what I thought was going to be a night of high-flying dunks, excessive laughing and 7-footers in expensive suits falling all over each other.

You know, the usual.

I would have been better off watching bobsledding.

It was like looking forward to a the party of the year at the lax bros’ house and then walking in to find out that they were playing Monopoly and serving 7-Up. Where’s the beer pong? Where are the keg stands? WHERE’S THE IRONIC DANCING TO MILEY CYRUS???

Who decided that a “team format” would make the contest more exciting? I mean, does anyone really care which conference is better at dunking?

I guess ESPN’s DJ Gallo was the only one who truly appreciated the new format:

 

To be honest, that was my favorite part, too.

The rest of it was pretty awful. The entire thing lasted a total of about 15 minutes. There were two rounds, the first of which resembled a layup line. It was unclear whether or not the players believed that round was just a warmup.

The second round pitted East vs. West and consisted of a total of six dunks, the last of which was the only exciting one in the group. Wall’s only individual dunk attempt of the night was pretty cool. Magic Johnson said it brought the dunk contest back.

And then the lights went out.

And it was over.

This tweet from Kings forward Jason Thompson pretty much summed it up:

 

 

One memorable dunk. And the trophy came out. Just when “Party in the USA” started playing.

Yo, Adam Silver:  Not cool, bro.

On to the rankings.

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Tweet of the Day: Ben McLemore Gearing Up For Slam Dunk Contest

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dunks

Engrave today’s date in your head, as tonight’s slam dunk competition could be worth remembering.

NBA All-Star 2014 marks only the second time that the Sprite Slam Dunk competition will feature three All-Star Game participants.

In recent years, fans have become accustom to doing a web search on half of the players in the competition.

Dwight-Howard

In the year 2000, Vince Carter rocked the rims and probably had the best dunk contest of all-time. In 2003 we saw Jason Richardson score perfect fifties. A few years later the era of Lil Nate, Nate Robinson, shook the stage and brought many fans back to the Spud Webb days. In 2008 Dwight Howard became Superman and flew across the court throwing down one of the most memorable dunks in the history of the competition (without even touching the rim). And in 2011 Blake Griffin jumped over a Kia, that’s cool too.

But looking at the last two dunk contests, what do you remember? Nothing! Exactly.

The calibre of talent in this event had seemed to diminish and the dunk contest became less exciting than the celebrity game without Kevin Hart.

Maybe we owe a thanks to new NBA commissioner Adam Silver, or maybe it’s great timing, but this year’s dunk contest is almost an All-Star lineup itself.

Paul George, Damian Lillard, John Wall, Harrison Barnes, Terrence Ross and Ben McLemore are preparing to highlight NBA All-Star Weekend’s most popular event.

The Sacramento Kings rookie is looking to give fans something to talk about. McLemore turned 21 last week, (in New Orleans I’m sure he’s keeping busy) he is excited about this and legitimately wants to win.

 

Saturday night these six players will have a worldwide audience on them. And for a player like McLemore, who’s still unknown to many, can make a name for himself with just one dunk.

The league has a chance to save the legacy of the slam dunk contest. This event was on life support, it’s not where it should be yet, but this is a very good start at rebuilding.

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Brett Poirier is a contributor to Sheridan Hoops.

SH Blog: Davis to Replace Kobe in All-Star Game; Knicks Not Happy With Woodson; LeBron Had Regrets in Miami; Walker: ‘”Tanking is Ridiculous”

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AnthonyDavisSH1Only a week out from All-Star Weekend in New Orleans beginning on February 14th, there has been one looming question heading in: who will replace Kobe Bryant on the Western Conference roster?

New NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, answered that question today. To nobody’s surprise he picked the hometown favorite, and well deserving Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. More from USA Today’s Sam Amick

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Top five memories from 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend

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LeBron James came into the weekend with the hype he’s built through the monstrous 60 percent, 30-point tear that he’d been on for nearly seven straight games.

Kevin Durant dropped (another) 30-spot: It was his third straight 30-point All-Star game.

Kobe Bryant made an timely, game-sealing block with the West up 134-126 and under 2:40 seconds to play in the game.

Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade each played a well-rounded game.

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Bernucca: Why the Lakers have to trade Dwight Howard

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Dwight Howard is the best center in the NBA. Yes, still.

He also is (a) incapable of making an elbow jumper, (b) unreliable at the free-throw line, (c) susceptible to long-term injury, (d) hypersensitive to criticism from teammates and coaches, (e) more interested in becoming the next Bill Murray rather than the next Bill Russell and (f) wondering why no one has handed him the icon status he desperately craves.

But the worst thing Howard is – and unlike the items above, this is a temporary condition – is a square peg in a round hole.

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