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NBA Dunk Contest
(Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)

The NBA Dunk Contest Is a Shell of What It Once Was

NBA Dunk Contest
(Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)

The NBA Dunk Contest Is a Shell of What It Once Was

Remember when the NBA Dunk Contest was actually fun? Long gone are the days of Jason Richardson, Vince Carter, Nate Robinson, Dwight Howard, and Blake Griffin doing things we couldn’t wait to tell our friends at school about. The Aaron Gordon-Zach LaVine face-off might as well have been a decade ago.

It feels like we haven’t seen a novel dunk in the All-Star Weekend competition in a long, long time. It’s hard to pull off a dunk that has never been seen before, and it’s getting harder every year. Cole Anthony had to throw Timbs on and Jalen Green put an NFT chain on that he didn’t even wear for an attempt. Both of these dunks took way too many tries to finish.

It’s just not the same. The excitement was missing, and the crowd was dead. Juan Toscano-Anderson tried to recreate an iconic Jason Richardson dunk, then wasn’t able to complete it and had to pivot to doing something more routine. Obi Toppin won the 2022 contest, and probably deserved to, but the one unique dunk he completed (bouncing it off the backboard in midair before flushing it) wasn’t even that cool. It seemed like none of the judges wanted to be there, and it also seemed like none of the participants bothered to practice their dunks beforehand.

At this point, something needs to change. I don’t know what, but something does. Given the ever-increasing challenge to do something new in this event, it might be worth asking if the NBA Dunk Contest is worth continuing. Seriously. It’s been trending down since Gordon-LaVine and shows no signs of improvement.

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