The Slam Dunk Contest has become a hyped-up event that never lives up to expectations. With the recent additions of props and the lack of creativity, the dunkers have been letting fans down over the last few years. Even players who continually miss dunks in the event (that means you, Nate Robinson) have walked away as the Slam Dunk Champion. Something needed to change and the NBA clearly saw that. They have come out with a new format that should lead to better entertainment and better dunks.
Let's take a look at the new format:
- The competition will feature two "team-based" rounds, meaning the Eastern Conference dunkers will compete against the Western Conference dunkers.
- The first round (Freestyle Round) will be 90-seconds long in which all three dunkers from the Conference will complete as many dunks as they can in that time frame. Each dunker must complete at least one dunk during the time and they are free to go in any order and to assist each other on their dunks.
- A panel of three judges will submit a vote indicating which Conference of dunkers they thought was the best. The Conference that wins will be awarded the opportunity to select the match-ups in the next round (Battle Round).
- The Battle Round will be three head-to-head matchups, with an Eastern Conference dunker taking on a Western Conference dunker. The match-ups will be chosen by the Conference who won the first round.
- Each dunker will be limited to three attempts in the round.
- The judges will choose who they thought won each round by choosing "East" or "West" and whoever loses will be eliminated from the competition.
- The first Conference to win three head-to-head matchups will win the Battle Round and will be crowned Slam Dunk champions.
- The fans will then vote on who they feel was the "Dunker Of The Night".
While it may be confusing to understand, it will be better. Imagine watching three high-flying dunks in a matter of seconds. Imagine a combination of passes leading to a powerful alley-oop. The new format sets up perfectly for these players and takes pressure off of them. No longer will we have to watch a player fail at a dunk 10 or more times. Especially in the first round, if a player misses a dunk, his teammate could come right back and wow the crowd just five seconds later, making you forget the previous dunk attempt.
It should be an entertaining event and the Battle Round could lead to fun rivalries. Let's hope the players come out ready to impress and they put on a show for everyone watching.
Let's take a look at the participants in this year's dunk contest:
- Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors)
- Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
- Ben McLemore (Sacramento Kings)
Terrence Ross is the reigning champion, but will have his hands full this year against such a talented and athletic group. Hopefully Ross can thrill the crowd once more and become this year's Dunker Of The Night.
The Sprite Slam Dunk Contest takes place Saturday, February 15 with coverage beginning at 8 pm. ET.
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