The new collective bargaining agreement increased the fees players get for participating in All-Star Weekend events, including the dunk contest, but the fee hike (surprise!) wasn’t enough to draw any stars into this year’s event, according to ESPN.com, which has the list of four participants. The names: Iman Shumpert, Chase Budinger, Derrick Williams and Paul George. Two rookies, one second-year player and one small forward who was basically out of Houston’s rotation a few short weeks ago.
The casual NBA fan will yawn, especially those who had hoped for a Blake Griffin encore. But many prior dunk contests have lacked a major household name and turned out as entertaining as any other exhibition. Role players and young guys are always looking to make their mark, and you can bet these four will break out some stuff they hope fans will remember for a long, long time.
This contest will also have Jeremy Lin, who has been cleared to work as a teammate facilitator for Shumpert, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports. Lin may not sleep all weekend, as the NBA wisely seeks to involve him in every possible All-Star event, including the Shooting Stars competition, that thing you don’t really pay attention to as you patiently wait for the other events. They should use the couch Lin had been sleeping on until recently as an obstacle in the Skills Challenge, where players (usually point guards) dribble around cones, toss passes through tires and perform other basketball-related tasks.