Dunk Contest Needs Better Dunkers, Judges

Not sure why I'm so incensed about All-Star Weekend already, but about this year's dunk contest: This will be the worst since the infamous "wheel of fortune" contest of 2002.
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↵First, I hate the field. Dwight Howard's sticker dunk was classic, and he would've changed history with a 12-foot goal. The Superman "dunk"? The cape was corny, and while Howard indeed defied gravity by getting perpendicular to the hoop, the finish was garbage. I guess it was a crowd-pleaser, but come on, do costumes really count as innovation? The sticker dunk similarly banked on the big man's sheer jumping ability, but with a gimmick that hammered home, rather than obsctructing, that natural wonder. Unless you were a judge, of course.
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↵Nate Robinson is a novelty act we're all sick of—I guess Howard is, too, but short dudes with hops are always playing catch-up, while Howard could expand the dimensions of time and space. Rudy Gay's a great finisher, but he's not particularly acrobatic and his elastic limbs seem to complicate whatever higher truth he's aiming for. Joe Alexander is blatant racial pandering, Rudy Fernandez's rep is based on one single dunk over Dwight Howard (and blatant international pandering), and Russell Westbrook's most impressive in traffic.
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↵Oh, and any world in which Gerald Green, inventor of THE BIRTHDAY CAKE, gets snubbed for this motley bunch is not one that values the Dunk Contest as I know it. Green can jump over anyone, has that perfect mix of agility and length to make his flight downright balletic, and comes up with crazy stuff. And he's managed to stick in the league and grow up a little.
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↵But my major beef is with the selection process. I don't know who comes up with the first three, or the fan fave options. I don't think, though, that it's the judges. And given what a miserable track record some have had for recognizing brilliance, seeing past the obvious, or even seeing what the heck was going on, it seems like they should be the ones consulted. Otherwise, it doesn't matter what contestants offer up—there's a chance that the judges will screw it all up, anyway. This is the real NBA controversy, not fixed games or Tim Donaghy. Vince Carter and Kobe obviously belong up there, but as usual, it's about time Michael Jordan moves on. Let's see some new blood handing out scores, guys more invested in the art of dunking, more up-to-date with what is and isn't possible. Like Jason Richardson, for instance.
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↵Or you can just watch LeBron James, J.R. Smith, and Trevor Ariza on a regular basis. It would take less time and give you more dunk fireworks. Except no BIRTHDAY CAKE.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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