Scrap The NBA Slam Dunk Competitions
by Henry Liao for philippinebasketball.ph (02/29/2012)
Sadly, MJ was gone too soon. Coincidental or not, ?Gone Too Soon? was the title of one of Jackson?s greatest hits at the peak of his illustrious career as a musician.
Last month, troubled R & B queen Whitney Houston also crossed the Great Divide at age 48.
She also was gone too soon. I will always love you, Whitney.
How about the Dunk Championship during the annual National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Weekend festivities?
That, my friends, should have long been a goner a long, long time ago. As a matter of fact, it should have been scrapped far much earlier than the untimely demise of Jackson and Houston.
Through the past two decades or so, the Slam Dunk contest has lost much of its luster. And slowly, it is becoming a farce because of the absence of star power and dunking creativity.
Can you truly salivate or shout yourself hoarse in amazement over a two-ball dunk by the league?s other Jeremy, the not-so-famous one surnamed Evans of the Utah Jazz who was a late replacement for injured rookie guard Iman Shumpert but went on to capture this year?s contest?
Or would you rather have the LA Clippers? Blake Griffin defending his title and executing his acrobatic acts out there, perhaps over a 16-wheeler truck this time?
Or strongman Dwight Howard of the All-Star host Orlando Magic masquerading not as Superman but rather Batman (bats do fly, don?t they?)?
Or perhaps have Oklahoma City?s high-flying Kevin Durant throwing his pair of shoes on one hand and the basketball on the other into the hole at the same time?
King of Slams, LeBron James, could have been persuaded to compete for the first time in this year?s Slam Dunk competitions. If not, even his princely ?sidekick? with the Heat, Dwyane Wade, would have been a worthy substitute for him.
And yet, Griffin, Durant, LeBron and Wadel opted not to strut their wares. Ditto Derrick Rose (Chicago) and John Wall (Washington).
Probably they really have nothing to prove. Legitimate NBA fans, after all, already know how they would stack up by watching them during official games.
I don?t think the winner?s prize ? which is worth peanuts when compared to their multi-million-dollar salaries ? played a role in their decision to decline participation. The risk of suffering an injury most likely was a factor.
And so what did loyal NBA fans that paid hard-earned money get to watch in the 2012 Slam Dunk Championship in Magic Kingdom?
They had four trying hard, second-rate copycats in Evans, a second-year forward out of the Jazz who was a teammate of Japeth Aguilar at Western Kentucky University; Houston?s Chase Budinger of the Houston Rockets; Paul George of the Indiana Pacers; and Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Derrick Williams.
The third and final dunk attempt of Williams, a Manila visitor last June, was terribly an eyesore for it took him so many tries to choreograph his act before finally deciding to abandon it when his two-minute limit was about to expire.
Back in 1998, the NBA moguls had temporarily shelved the Slam Dunk Championship, one of the ?fun? events on All-Star Saturday.
A prolonged lockout the following year scuttled the entire NBA All-Star festivities as the 1998-99 regular season opened during the first week of February instead of the traditional late October/early November start.
The Slam Dunk Championship returned in 2000.
Take away Howard?s Superman impersonation, pint-sized Nate Robinson?s high-wire acts, and Griffin?s car jump a year ago, most of the competitions in the past decade lacked in excitement, originality and creativity.
The time has come to bury the Slam Dunk Championship, and never to be revived again.