Sixers Ball

January 23, 2010 5:00 PM

Slam dunk misses wow factor

vincecarter.jpgShaquille O'Neal had a pretty good idea this week when he suggested superstars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Vince Carter should participate in the 2010 NBA Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Weekend.

Big Shaq thought bringing in big-time names like Bryant, James and Carter would re-energize the once-beloved event and could furthermore generate substantial proceeds in which half would go to the winner and the other half could aid earthquake victims in Haiti.

Bryant, who won the contest in '97, unfortunately passed on his former teammate's idea, and apparently "the challenge" won't come close to happening anyway because both James and Carter also have no interest in participating this NBA season.

Without the league's biggest names added to the list, NBA fans will consequently be forced to watch two-time winner Nate Robinson, Gerald Wallace, Shannon Brown and DeMar DeRozan or Eric Gordon throw down in the annual competition.

Once again, this year's participants as well as the nonparticipants will most likely get blamed for the contest failing to generate the buzz of legendary competitions that featured Larry Nance, Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins. But the truth is if critics are searching to blame someone or something, they should point the finger at the evolution of the game itself, not these individual guys.

The thrill of the competition's gone as a result of taller, stronger and faster athletes who sky high above the rim with ease. The anticipation of the competition's gone as a result of ESPN and NBA TV highlights and youtube videos posted on the Internet.

Unlike in the '70s and '80s, the majority of NBA players nowadays are true high-flyers, and the majority of hoop fans watch their aerobatics in the air on television every night.

What can Robinson, Wallace, Brown, DeRozan or Gordon do on Feb. 13 in Dallas that NBA fans haven't seen in prior slam dunk competitions or in TV highlights during the course of the season?

The truth is the dunk replays shown on ESPN, NBA TV and posted on youtube are more eye-popping to most fans these days, because they're actually executed during the course of a game.

Next month, the five gallant participants will certainly add costumes and other tricks to try to spice up the event. However, the most essential act - the dunk itself - lost its wow factor years ago in the eyes of the majority of NBA fans. So truthfully, there's not much these players or the league can really do now to revive the lackluster event.

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