Stephen A. Smith Blames LeBron James For Ruining Slam Dunk Contest in Most Baseless Rant Ever

2023 NBA All Star Game
2023 NBA All Star Game / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

NBA All-Star Weekend has come and gone which means we only have a couple more days to discuss how bad everything is and suggest ridiculous fixes. In the wake of a good dunk contest thanks to Mac McClung and Trey Murphy III, a popular narrative is to suggest that McClung "saved" the dunk contest, but we cannot forget those who ruined it in the first place.

If you asked Stephen A. Smith, that's LeBron James. Stephen A. went on a five-minute rant for Brian Windhorst on First Take this morning.

If you don't want to watch the whole thing, here's the gist of it. McClung was great and white men can jump, just like the movie. Stephen A. thinks amateurs should be used in the dunk contest. And then he gets around to blaming LeBron. Here's the pertinent part of the clip.

"There is one blemish that should be on LeBron James' career. He has ruined the Slam Dunk Contest. He is personally responsible. That's right. I'm saying it."

Stephen A. then goes on to list the superstars who participated in the Slam Dunk contest. Including Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon who also tried to save the contest like McClung just did. In conclusion, LeBron decided he wouldn't do it so everyone else decided it wasn't worth their time.

The only problem with this is that the dunk contest has been on constant life support for decades. Yeah, we've all seen the clips of Michael Jordan dunking from the free throw line, but did you know that there was such little interest in the contest that they just didn't bother doing it in 1998, the year after Kobe Bryant won? It's true!

LeBron James would have been 13-years old when that happened. The league decided toreplace the dunk contest with the WNBA / NBA 2Ball Contest.

I mean, come on. It's not like everyone that did it after Michael Jordan was the biggest star on the planet. After Jordan won his second contest in 1988, Kenny "Sky" Walker won in '89. Three years later he was playing in Spain.

What are we really pining for here? The early 90's with Dee Brown and Harold Miner? Desmond Mason won in 2001. The superstars he beat out that year? Baron Davis, Jonathan Bender, Corey Maggette, DeShawn Stevenson and Stromile Swift. Who was inspired to skip the contest because of LeBron James that year?

Did LeBron save the dunk contest? No. He simply chose to play it safe because there's really no upside for an actual superstar in the dunk contest. All you can do is win, which you're supposed to do, or lose, just like Ja Morant would have lost to Mac McClung if he'd participated this weekend.

If LeBron had done a couple dunk contests 15 years ago, the same guys would be passing on the contest as they are right now. The league can only keep hoping that young guys with nothing to lose think up cool stuff and pull it off. Or bring back 2Ball.