3hree Things: On The Agonizing Death of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Watch out for 3hree Things (usually) every Tuesday, where Riley Breckenridge, drummer of Orange County's favorite local alt-rock band Thrice, gives his take on life in Southern California as an OC native.



My obsession with the NBA Slam Dunk Contest started in 1985, and thrived for almost a decade after. Those were the halcyon days. Dominique Wilkins. Spud Webb. Kenny "Sky Walker. And some guy named Michael Jordan. It was a time when dunks were still fresh, when legitimate NBA stars would actually compete in the contest, when players didn't have to jump over cars or their teammates or dress up like Superman to win. I'd watch every second of these dunk contests while I taped it on our VHS so I could watch them over and over and try to recreate my favorite dunks on the NERF hoop in my bedroom or the mini-hoop in our driveway. This was top-tier dorkery. (Thankfully, evidence of said dorkery has been destroyed and is decomposing in an landfill somewhere in Orange County, because one of the last things a middle-aged dork needs is for 25-year-old NERF hoop slam dunk footage set to bad early-90s hip-hop to surface on the internet.)

I think the beginning of the end came in '97, when Kobe Bryant won the contest with a series of mediocre dunks that had been done far better by Dominique and Jordan a decade prior. There was no contest in '98, and in '99 a lockout and shortened season meant there was no All-Star Game, and thus, no dunk contest. When it returned in 2000, it picked up where it left off with rehashed and uninspired dunks executed by fields of competitors that were either: a) bench players that casual NBA fans had never heard of, b) fringe stars that acted like they were doing the league a favor by competing, or c) rookies looking to lock down a shoe contract. Year after year, it kept getting worse, but I couldn't turn away, even though I know I'm just watching the slow, agonizing death of something I held so dear as a kid.

Saturday night's dunk contest was more of the same, with a cast of NBA rookies (and token white guy, Chase Budinger) performing a bunch of dunks we've all seen before. And even worse than the rehashing of old dunks, was the increased number gimmicks this year. I thought Blake Griffin's contest-winning KIA commercial dunk over a car last year was the apex of gimmickry, but I was wrong. When a dunk itself is not enough, I think it's probably time to put this thing to rest. 

/END RANT (Wow, do I feel like a curmudgeon.)

Here are the 3hree worst dunks from this year's competition. Proof that Slam Dunk Contest should be put out of its misery.


 

1) Jeremy Evans Wears A Headband Cam, Does Something Boring

The goal was to give armchair dunkers a first-person view of what it might be like to do a SUPER AWESOME dunk. The end result was a first-person view of what it might be like to chase a basketball and dive face first into a pile of nylon netting.


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Slapstickskeptic
Slapstickskeptic

Are  you drunk? The 2000 contest was the BEST.IN.HISTORY. By universal acknowledgement. Are you sure you haven't been watching a high school dunk contest all this while?

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Petter Anna

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Nolan
Nolan

Ben's a douche...The dunk contest is no doubt going down hill, but there have been some memorable dunks in the last few years.  Derrick Williams' off the side of backboard 360 was pretty insane, and the double dunk that won the contest for Jeremy Evans was impressive.  JaVale McGee and Blake Griffin were pretty good last year.  Dwight Howard should have windmilled on the 12 foot rim when he had a chance.  I still watch every year, but they need to get LeBron and Griffin in the contest for next year

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ben
ben

How can you even "talk" about the dunk contests if you're not even mentioning Vince Carter? Brushing over the 2000 contest in the way you did? Further proves I could never listen to a baseball man's thoughts on a far superior sport.

Riley
Riley

Who made you read this? Go read something else. The internet is HUGE.

VC had some nice dunks in that contest, but Dominique had done most of them already...15 years prior.

Jose
Jose

hey Ben, go somewhere. this isn't some "baseball man." he's the drummer of a pretty good rock band that's well known. nearly every week i read this dude's blogs and they are all great reads. in fact, he's better than some of Yahoo's boring writers. 

Justin Houser
Justin Houser

Completely agree. Except, I don't know about the other contestants in the 2000 dunk contest, but Vince Carter...come on. That was awesome. Every dunk was executed perfectly (and on the first attempt from what I can tell!)

http://youtu.be/vVC3yBHjNvo

jenn and tom
jenn and tom

Was there any "bad" early 90s hip hop? I'd take that stuff over what plays on today's crap radio any day.

Bet you had a Dream Team caricature teeshirt for the 1992 Olympics, too ;)

Rayann Castro
Rayann Castro

Now I really don't feel bad that I missed it... lol

Rayann Castro
Rayann Castro

oh yeah..."The end result was a first-person view of what it might be like to chase a basketball and dive face first into a pile of nylon netting" hahahaha. Yes.

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