The Slam Dunk contest will take place during halftime of the 2021 NBA All-Star Game tonight. Obi Toppin, Anfernee Simons and Cassius Staley make up the field for this year's contest. They are averaging a combined 14 points per game this season in 32.6 combined minutes per game. It begs the question, what are we even doing here? Do you think Shaq could pick 66% of these guys out of a lineup?
No matter how good these guys might be at dunking, there is no reason to care about this contest. So how do we fix this right now, on the fly, hours from the contest? The All-Stars dunk.
The Slam Dunk contest is both awesome and incredibly pointless. We love the dunk contest because Michael Jordan did it and then Vince Carter perfected it, but about half the time the contest is forgettable and the winner is a footnote. Tonight is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for guys to just wander onto the court and show off.
Under normal circumstances, the actual All-Stars are courtside in street clothes for the dunk contest. So when the fans get into it and people start getting excited, guys say things in the heat of the moment that they don't really mean. Like back in 2009 when Cheryl Miller got LeBron James to say he was going to dunk in the next year's contest. Obviously, that never happened.
Tonight though? There will be two former dunk contest champions dressed and warmed up from playing in the All-Star game watching from the bench. Why should Donovan Mitchell ('18 champ) and Zach LaVine ( '15 and '16 champ) stand by and let these guys win this trophy?
Not to mention Zion Williamson, the player that everyone actually wants to see the most. And LeBron near the end of his never-ending prime. Why can't he go out there and throw down something crazy because he will never be in this spot again? Next year it goes back to All-Star Saturday Night. Back to street clothes and people wishing he had entered just one dunk contest in his career.
No disrespect to Simons and Stanley and Toppin (OK, maybe a little), but nobody is asking for them. The actual All-Stars should step up and put on a show. Put their own money on the line and then give it to HBCUs.
What is the point of the dunk contest? It seems unclear some years, but I can't imagine it's to give the same trophy Michael Jordan won twice to a guy averaging single-digit minutes per game. The real stars can save the dunk contest tonight. They can make it cool again. Hopefully, adrenaline takes over and that happens, because if not now, then there might be no turning back.