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Friday, February 24, 2012
What to do about the Dunk Contest

By Beckley Mason

Lots of people are up in arms over the lack of star power in this year's dunk contest. We tend to remember past dunk contests as epic clashes between stars, but aside from the golden era of Jordan and ‘Nique, how often has the contest champ really an awesome player?

What's that you say?

Last year?

When it was Blake Griffin?

Really, I think the bigger problem is with the format. One dunk, then a big wait for the next one. Lots of airtime and little action. Some might say this pattern builds suspense, but I’d rather be overwhelmed by a constant stream of athleticism and improvisation.

HoopIdea likes to draw from other sports that have shown an idea can work. Isn’t the NBA's Dunk Contest just basketball’s version of a trick competition?

We asked readers for suggestions on how to improve All-Star Weekend, so take it away, Bob Ngo!
The X games used to structure their best trick contest the similar to the dunk contest. Each contestant would get three chances to do their trick, and like the dunk contest, the trick took a few seconds, the announcers would go crazy, and the crowd would cheer and then that was it. It was ok, but there was a lot of downtime between tricks, between skaters, and this was especially felt if the skater did not land the trick.

Recently, they've switched to a "jam session" format, which I find to be much more compelling. Basically, skaters take turns, but they go immediately after the previous skater attempts a trick. I mean, I guess there are a few seconds between skaters but it feels like non stop skating for twenty or so minutes. This gets the crowd fired up and it gets the skaters fired up. Each skater gets caught up in the moment and knows that to do well, he has to outdo the trick that the previous skater just landed. It also, gets rid of the interminable time after a missed dunk because someone else is going right away. What you get is a contest where with each attempted trick, the tricks get increasingly more difficult, and increasingly more tense. By the end of it, the whole crowd is going nuts!

They say basketball is like jazz. In jazz, the true moments of genius come out of improvisation. Why not give the dunkers a format where they can show us their genius.

I dig this because I hate watching high flyers awkwardly walk around mid court, blowing on their cold hands while trying to generate some energy and enthusiasm in the current, over-produced format. Let them hype up each other (and the crowd) by creating a live mixtape of eye-popping dunks!

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