The dunk contest is the main event of the All-Star Weekend's Saturday festivities. It's a tradition that goes all the way back to 1976 and the ABA era, and had its start in the NBA in 1984. It has featured some of the most indelible moments in NBA history, provided by past winners Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter.
The contest had lost some of its shine in recent years, but Zach LaVine brought it back with a terrific performance in 2015. He will attempt to retain the title, but it won't be easy. The challengers will be the Magic's Aaron Gordon, the Pistons' Andre Drummond and the Nuggets' Will Barton. What the field lacks in star power, it more than makes up for with hops, as the four participants are some of the most exciting dunkers in the league.
Dunk contest participants
LaVine is a highlight machine who explodes off the floor with ease and seemingly glides through the air. His dunks in last year's edition of the contest were some of the best the league had seen in a while.
Big men don't typically fare well in the competition but Drummond has the potential to shock the world and be the first center to claim the title since Dwight Howard won it in 2008. The power he shows when he throws down is certainly impressive, so it will come down to creativity for Drummond.
Will Barton might not be a household name yet, but the explosive Nuggets wing has to be considered the frontrunner to claim the Sixth Man of the Year award. He has the hops to do well with the judges and the attitude necessary to win the public over, so he's definitely a dark horse contender.
Yet Aaron Gordon is the biggest threat to LaVine's reign. The Magic forward is one of the most athletic players in the league. His explosiveness and power drew well-earned comparisons to former contest winner Blake Griffin, so he could definitely emerge victorious.
After experimenting with a rule change in 2014, the league returned to a more traditional format in 2015 and will stick to it for this year's edition.
Each participant will get two dunks in the first round, with no time limit to complete them but a maximum of three tries. The two players with the highest score will advance to the final round, where they will perform two more dunks. The one with the highest combined score will be crowned as the winner.
How to watch the Verizon Dunk Contest
Time: Sat., Feb. 13. 8:30 p.m. ET (fourth event)
Place: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Streaming: Watch TNT
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