LeBron James Getting Stuck in No-Win Situation with NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 03: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat dunks the ball against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 3, 2013 in New York City.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

After Magic Johnson's million-dollar offer to LeBron James as an incentive to get him to sign up for next season's Slam Dunk Contest, LeBron finds himself in a no-win situation.

Magic offered LeBron $1 million to win next year's dunk contest, or to anyone who could beat LeBron in the competition.

At this point it seems as if LeBron is mulling the offer, although there's no real indication that he's taken the offer seriously, or that it's going to get him into the competition.

LeBron's said he's still unsure, and that his thoughts have been on the contest in the past:

I don't have a response yet.

I think about it every year.

All this talk arose over the past few weeks as people started to take notice of LeBron throwing down monstrous dunks before games as the Miami Heat goes into their layup lines. A few videos come out and people start to go insane.

LeBron's pre-game dunks are very good, and the fact that they're just happening before games gives us the thought that he would be even better given time to prepare and practice some more spectacular dunks.

That, combined with the fact that there hasn't been a true "big name" player in the contest in two years has people aching for a change of heart from LeBron.

However, if you are LeBron in this situation, is there honestly a positive that can arise not only from Magic's offer (besides the money, which I'm sure would go to a charity), but from competing in the dunk contest in general?

There's a multi-faceted approach toward failure with each scenario seeming just as likely as the last.

Obviously, if LeBron goes out and loses, it's the biggest disappointment for him since losing the 2011 NBA Finals. He goes out, loses, and it's a complete flop.

Not only would that be a personal blemish, but it would be another thing for people to knock him on when inevitably comparing him to Michael Jordan, and it would provide unneeded troll food.

LeBron James has always been afraid to do the Dunk Contest because he was afraid to lose it.

— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) March 2, 2013

If LeBron does end up winning the contest, the likely reaction is going to be one of two knee-jerk decisions from fans.

People that find nits to pick with LeBron's game will do what they do best--pick nits. Shouts of the fix being in, or just pessimistic comments like, "Well he should have won it a long time ago," or, "Of course he was going to win, he should have gotten it out of the way earlier."

That, or a collective let-down as LeBron wins, but nothing spectacular or out-of this-world happens, as people seem to expect.

At this point LeBron doing the dunk contest would be like when Obama released his birth certificate.

— Sean Highkin (@shighkinNBA) March 3, 2013


Realistically, the only way LeBron gets credit and adulation for winning the contest would be if he puts on a show so heart-stopping that it's compared to the 1988 or 2000 Slam Dunk Contests. To do that, LeBron would have to bring innovation, which is hard to do in today's dunking world if you're not totally committed to creating new dunks.

In the end, LeBron's decision regarding the dunk contest isn't going to change anybody's opinion of him. You won't sit 30 years from now and think of LeBron as a great player, but a legendary one had he won a silly dunk contest.

If he does end up deciding to dunk, there should be no other reason to participate other than to entertain the fans and prove to himself that he can win. Put aside Magic's offer, ignore the critics and just go dunk.

Otherwise, just don't do it.