Saturday, February 25, 2012

NBA Stars Need to Step Up to the Plate

Photo Credit:
 Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant. Dominique Wilkins. Dwight Howard. Blake Griffin. Vince Carter. Jeremy Evans? You read that right. The 2nd year forward out of Western Kentucky, the 55th player taken in the 2010 NBA draft, is your 2012 NBA Slam Dunk Champion. Now I don't want to take anything away from Jeremy Evans' performance tonight - his two-ball dunk while jumping over teammate Gordon Hayward was awesome -

- but the fact of the matter is that Jeremy Evans isn't what the fans want to see. The 24 year old Evans is averaging 1.7 points in the 16 games he's appeared in this season and has started all of 3 games in his brief career. Hardly all-star material. It wasn't even just Evans. Look at the rest of the field: Chase Budinger, Paul George and Derrick Williams representing the Rockets, Pacers and Timberwolves respectively. Hardly household names. No LeBron James. No Blake Griffin... Heck, nobody in last year's field came back this year. As a fan, I have to say it's disappointing. Can you honestly tell me that you wouldn't tune in for a dunk contest featuring James, Griffin, John Wall and Derrick Rose? 

It just seems like the dunk contest has lost it's star power over the years. In 1984, the world saw Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins and Clyde Drexler. And none of those guys won! In 1990, it was Wilkins, Scottie Pippen, Kenny "Sky" Walker, Shawn Kemp and Kenny Smith. In 2000 it was Vince Carter, Steve Francis, Tracy McGrady, Ricky Davis, Ray Allen and Jerry Stackhouse. And now there's this field that has combined to start 44 games between them this season. I'm not saying the Jeremy Evans's and the JaVale McGee's of the world don't deserve a chance too. Back in the day, the competition used to have 8 or even 9 competitors. Stars and defending champions could get byes in the early rounds. Just think. This year's competition could've looked like this: Evans, Budinger, George, Williams, James, Griffin, Howard, Wall. James, Howard and Griffin with automatic byes into the second round. The other five battle for the fourth spot. People would watch that.

So why doesn't anyone want to participate? Are they scared there reps will take a hit if they lose? Scared of being embarrassed? They need to get over it. Give the people what they want. Let's see the best in the game dunk against the rising stars. Give the casual fan a reason to tune in. This is such a great event, and I just think the NBA could make it even better. Dare to dream, I guess...

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