Saturday, February 25, 2012

Meet Me at the Mall; It's Going Down: DUNK CONTEST 2012

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how the league can resolve its dunk contest problem.  What was long ago a conglomeration of the league’s most exciting players has become a gathering of it’s “rising stars” – that is to say, it is comprised of four players who are not yet above the banality of the event.  This year’s contestants, Paul George, Derrick Williams, Jeremy Evans, and Chase Budinger, are so unheard of that Arne Duncan, the 47-year-old US Secretary of Education fresh off a dazzling Celeb-Game, is seriously contemplating signing himself up as well.

Some have contended that it may be time to take a hiatus on the Dunk Contest.  After all, the 2000 Vincanity Dunk Contest came in the wake of a three year layoff and, perhaps because of a nation-wide longing for the event’s return, proved to be one of the greatest in history.  But if the questions is whether or not we should do the same now with the contest at perhaps an all-time low, the answer is a definitive no. 

“Rising Stars” often gets a bad rap and rightfully so; the nomenclature is the Association’s poor attempt to justify the lack of big-name talent.  However, it’s actually not too far off.  Guys like Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace, Richard Jefferson, Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, Nate Robinson, and Javale McGee, while not necessarily perennial all-stars, made their debuts prior to or at the early beginnings of their increased significance around the league.  Even Dwight Howard and Amare Stoudemire, both of whom competed in numerous contests, did so before they reached superstardom.  Could one of this year’s dunkers join them? 

The bottom line is, nearly every NBA players can produce some impressive dunks and, hopefully, George, Williams, Evans, and Budinger are not exceptions.  Obviously a LeBron vs. Griffin DC might be the most entertaining hour of televised athletics ever, but there’s plenty to hope for in this year’s installment.  Anyone who thinks we should cancel the contest because the keg of possible dunks was kicked long ago clearly forgot about the new one sitting in the backyard.  If tonight’s dunk contest is going to be exciting, they will need to tap it.  Here’s a short list of dunks that (A) have not been done in a long time, (B) I have never seen, and/or (C) are too absurd to have been attempted. 

360° Behind-the-Back
We have a 6-foot hoop in our house and it’s surprisingly durable.  Attempting to dunk on something only a few inches taller than you is awkward, but the fact that nobody in my house has been able to do this dunk must make it pretty freakin impossible on the real thing.  If someone can throw this one down they should win. 

Without question, the strangest dunk in contest history was Gerald Green’s “HE BLEW IT OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!” dunk of 2008 in which he extinguished a lit candle on a cupcake that was resting behind the rim.  Someone definitely should have put in those trick candles that relight themselves.  How can this get topped?  Forget the candle, I want someone to take a bite out of the tasty treat. 

You have to wonder how bad Green's munchies 
were when he came up with this one
Double Dunk
Javale McGee had a few variations on a double dunk last year, but what I have in mind with this one in entirely different.  Once someone actually completes the dunk they usually enjoy a casual fall back to the ground, but the double dunk would change that.  This one’s a bit harder to envision so I’ll give a step-by-step explanation.
--Step 1: Attempt a consistent, good dunk (i.e. full-extension windmill)
--Step 2: Just as the dunker takes off, a helper lobs a second ball towards the rim.
--Step 3: Immediately after flushing the first ball, the dunker identifies the second ball that should be within inches of the rim.  
--Step 4: On his way down from the hoop the dunker grabs the second ball and dunks that one as well.
**Caveat:  The point is for this to happen very quickly.  The dunker cannot hang on the rim and wait for the ball to arrive.  It should be a natural, fluid series of movements.

Behind the Foul Line
Serge Ibaka has a right to feel as though he was robbed of the title last year after he pulled off probably the longest dunk in contest history; only the tips of his toes grazed the foul line.  Maybe it’s because there’s nothing particularly flashy about a foul-line dunk, but we really hadn’t seen someone do it successfully in a very long time.  Breaking the dunk out again in 2012 might come off as a bit stale, that is unless someone can dunk from even further back.   

Live from Mars
Stool Dunk
Who says you have to dunk a ball?  Contestants love to have their teammates join in the festivities as lob-guys.  It looks cool when dunks become alley-oops rather than straightforward ones, but I’ve been doing that since first grade (off a diving board or on a small hoop).  Catching a ball in midair is elementary.  So why not try it with a more aerodynamically problematic item, like, say, a stool?  Watching someone attempt to catch and slam mid-sized furniture sounds ­way more impressive. 

Under-the-Leg Windmill
This is probably the most challenging of any dunk listed and pretty much what it sounds like.  When most NBA stars attempt highflying dunks, they throw their legs way back.  The under-the-leg windmill calls for someone switching the ball from their non-dominant hand to their dunking-hand under their kneecaps with their legs at a 90° angle.  As is the case for most basketball scenarios, lankier players will have a distinct advantage. 
“If a pretty girl’s dumb… it don’t matter.”
Dunk Over a CAR
I love Blake Griffin, but that winning car-dunk was bullshit.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say he did not deserve to win last year, but the KIA-sponsored finale was L-A-M-E.  After all the fanfare of bringing in the car, Griffin simply leaped over its hood, which is kind of like jumping over an average sized table or large chair.  The fact that Griffin elected not to defend his title this year would make car one-upmanship a very pointed event.  Of course, Griffin could offer numerous rebuttal dunks as evidence of his superiority, none of which took place in a dunk contest

I love NBA All-Star weekend and I don’t want to see the end of its main event.


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