The highlight of NBA All-Star Weekend (often even over the game itself) is the annual Slam Dunk Contest. It’s not a difficult concept, really. You hand the ball to some of the best athletes in the world and watch in awe as they try and pull off the most creative and ridiculous dunks that they can conjure up. Think Michael Jordan from the free throw line. Vince Carter defying the laws of physics. Hell, even Gerald Green blowing out the candle on the cupcake. Yeah, nothing memorable like that happened this year because this format didn’t ALLOW for anything memorable to happen. Instead, 2014 will be remembered as the year that the NBA tried that ridiculously awful format. I thought the short sleeve jerseys that look like knockoff New Orleans Saints jerseys from T.J Maxx would be the worst thing about this year, but I was wrong.
Instead of just adhering to the way that they’ve always done it (individuals competing against each one another), the six participants were divided into East and West teams respectively and for reasons beyond my comprehension the event became team oriented. It kicked off with a 90 second long freestyle/showcase/warm-up that was an absolute cluster fuck. The East squad of Paul George, Terrence Ross and John Wall followed by the West team of Harrison Barnes, Ben McLemore and Damian Lillard basically dicked around for a minute each, trying to pull off as creative dunks involving three players as possible. The crowd was dead, the fans were confused and it was just a big, huge, gigantic mess. Are they going to run the weave? Is the Globetrotters music going to start playing? Are the mascots in play? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON, DID WE LOSE A WAR? Apparently, these exhibitions were actually PART of the overall competition and the East were declared the “winners” by the esteemed panel of Magic Johnson, Dominique Wilkins and Dr. J. (Because if there’s one man to make sense out of a confusing situation with his crystal clear articulations it’s MAGIC “THE EMMITT SMITH OF BASKETBALL” JOHNSON). The overall sense of total confusion is even more unfortunate as there were a few actually a few outstanding dunks in the midst of all the chaos (Ben McLemore in particular had one where it looked like he jumped about 50 inches and then reached back for the ball).
This apparently meant that the East would control which side went first during the individual “match-ups” for the rest of the contest. I’m literally looking up the rules right now to try and explain them and I WATCHED THE WHOLE THING. SOBER. So, from there a representative from the East “battled” a representative from the West with ONE dunk each. The judges then declared either the West or the East the winners of that particular “battle”. So not only is this ridiculous team concept continuing, but the participants are only given one dunk attempt as opposed to the multiple that they’ve always been given, completely limiting their chance to be creative and making this format EVEN WORSE WHICH I DIDN’T THINK WAS POSSIBLE. The dunks themselves are a blur. I remember Drake (I wanted Ross to do a backflip over Kendrick Lamar while he performed “Rigamortis” and instead I get Drake. Of course.) struggling to LITERALLY JUST HOLD THE BALL during the freakishly athletic Terrence Ross’ one attempt, Harrison Barnes missing a bunch of pretty basic dunks and Shaq wearing a king’s costume for some reason. The East “won” all three rounds/battles/whatever and as soon as this awful thing started, it was over. So three people “won” the Dunk Contest, but also because he was voted by fans online or Sprite or something John Wall was also the winner. Good God, please do not ever use this format ever again. I never thought I would see the day when I could say with a straight face that the SKILLS COMPETITION was more exciting than the Dunk Contest, but it was! THE SKILLS COMPETITION! The three point contest legitimately blew it out of the water in terms of entertainment value. For the love of God, please go back to the old format. East vs. West hasn’t been this awkward since Suge Knight was involved.