To many people, it is a dying art. It lacks the quality star power that it used to feature in the past. It does not have any rivalries that would gather the same amount of fanfare. What I am clearly talking about is the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
Gone are the days of Michael Jordan vs. Dominique Wilkins. We no longer have Vince Carter vs. Tracy McGrady. Forget about stars such as Julius Erving, Kobe Bryant, Amar’e Stoudamire and others. We don’t even have the types of players who made their name relevant from the contest, including Cedric Ceballos, Dee Brown, Harold Miner and Desmond Mason.
What we have had recently is Dwight Howard vs. Nate Robinson. It has been billed as David vs. Goliath. Big vs. little. But as we all know, as exciting as it was at times, it has run its course.
LeBron James has been at the butt of many jokes since he announced his now world famous decision to join the Miami Heat. The media has continuously chastised him and his teammates for how they came to be in South Beach. While I have been quick to defend James and the Heat for doing something that many others in their same position have done in the past, just to a lesser degree, I would like to offer some advice to James that will help his image and increase his popularity amongst professional athletes once again.
James was once one of the most popular stars in the game. He was one of the most liked players in all of sports. But then he changed his uniform and he became public enemy number one to many. Generally speaking, once you do so much to hurt your public persona, it takes a lot of time and effort to change people’s tunes. But in this case, I feel that James could make one simple decision to make things right again.
One simple announcement.
“This February, I will be taking my talents to…
… the NBA Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend at the Staples Center in L.A.”
It is that simple.
James has been talking about entering the dunk contest for years now. He has said time and time again that he would love to do it, but has remained hesitant because of the lack of star power. Now, I have to admit, it may seem weird for James to be in his thing with three other, well, why don’t we call them lesser known players. But whether or not he can bring in some of his fellow All-Stars to enter the contest or not, this is something that James has to do in February. It would be as close to as instant fix as you can possibly get.
It is what he needs. It is what the team needs.
Ultimately, it is what the league needs.
We all know that the NBA is in trouble. They are losing money at a record pace. They are in serious danger of having a lockout last well into the start of the next regular season, so any good publicity would help at this point.
Picture an NBA Slam Dunk Contest with the Following names:
1. LeBron James
2. Kobe Bryant
3. Vince Carter
4. Amar’e Stoudamire
5. Dwight Howard
6. Kevin Durant
7. Derrick Rose
8. Blake Griffin
Tell me that those names would not excite the fans. Tell me that these players would not be able to put the dunk contest back on the map. Tell me the league what not be thrilled for this type of hype surrounding an event that used to be one of the most popular events in all of sports.
And finally, tell me that this would not help the image of James and the rest of the league
- Rob Kelley
* Make sure to follow Kelley, who was recently names one of the 1,000 Most Influential Sports Writers on Twitter, @RobKelley24.