Admit it. You want to watch the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. You remember the good times: 5’6” Spud Webb’s crotch-high shorts soaring through the air as he won the 1986 title; Jordan’s take-off from the charity stripe; Vince Carter’s elbow dunk.
Then you remember the more recent times: Nate Robinson needing 18 dunk attempts before he made one to win the 2006 contest. Huh? Doesn’t that prove he’s not good at dunking? And he’s the only three-time champ? Harold Miner should file a complaint with the commish.
OK. Maybe you don’t want to watch contestants jumping over other players (again) or passing the ball to themselves off of the shot clock (it could happen). The point is, the Slam Dunk Contest has been running on empty for the last few years. And during that time, the Three-Point Shootout has been gaining momentum and is threatening to become the must-see event (it’s all relative) February 19th during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
Think about it. Think of the positives and negatives of the two events. You’re right, it’s kind of mind-numbing. But don’t worry. I have numbed my mind for you. Here are four reasons that should make three pointers more exciting than slam dunks for at least one day:
Contestants in the Three-Point Shootout shoot five basketballs each from five stations and they have one minute to make as many threes as they can. As a fan, we are able to watch defending champ Paul Pierce try to beat the clock to win the contest. Lots of pressure. On the other hand, the Slam Dunk Contest looks pretty relaxed. Just a bunch of guys trying to outdo each other with the coolest dunk they can think of at the moment. No pressure, anything goes, blacktop basketball. There just isn't that sense of urgency that a ticking clock in the corner of the TV screen brings.
You Don’t Know Me
Ray Allen (45.6 percent three-point shooter), Paul Pierce (38.9 percent), and Kevin Durant (34.7 percent) hold a 3-to-1 advantage over dunking aficionado Blake Griffin as future Hall of Famers in the the competing contests. Although I am a little surprised to see Durant taking aim. His three-point field goal percentage is only good for 102nd in the league. The rest of the field is littered with DeRozans, Gibsons, and Wrights. There’s even an Ibaka, the most noteworthy Congolese hoopster since Dikembe Mutombo. I am intrigued by Griffin unleashing some All-Star dunk faces, but I’d rather watch Celtics’ teammates Allen and Pierce shoot it out for the long range title.
No Doubt In My Mind
In the Three-Point Shootout, the first four balls at each station count for one point and the last ABA “money” ball counts for two points. The goal, of course, is to make every basket for a total of thirty points.
The immortal Craig Hodges and Jason Kapono are tied for the most points ever scored with 25 in 1991 and 2008, respectively. There you go. Definitive proof that somebody made more baskets than anybody else. A clear-cut winner.
Unfortunately, with the Slam Dunk Contest, the final score is subjective. A panel of judges, who, no matter how objective they want and plan to be, still bring unplanned bias and favoritism to the table. That effects the voting and there will always be arguments as to who actually had the best dunk of the evening. Unless it’s 1986 and Spud Webb just brought the house down. No arguments there. He’s 5’6”! Only gravity is allowed to argue that win.
Classic Hits of the ‘10s
You need to weigh your options. One option would be for you to sit on your couch and watch players try to reinvent the dunk wheel and not be able to because there’s nothing left that is original and awe-inspiring. Just ask JaVale McGee. He needs your help. Or you can watch a shot that has not changed since it’s inception but still causes fans to hold their breath for half of a second hoping it will go in. Choose wisely.
Enjoy All-Star Weekend 2011. The NBA is experiencing a renaissance right now and as fans it’s great to be watching history in the making. Just make sure you’re watching what’s going to be remembered in the history books (or Wikipedia).