2015 Dunk Contest: Good but not great

The NBA Slam Dunk Contest, which is held on Saturday night during All Star weekend, has regained popularity in the last couple of years because of talented young guys who are freak athletes.

Growing up I was always fascinated by the slam dunk contest. Seeing guys like Vince Carter, Jason Richardson, Dwight Howard and Nate Robinson win it was always fun to watch.

Until last year, when Minnesota Timberwolves rookie guard Zach Lavine made people’s jaws drop with his crazy athleticism, the dunk contest was a bit of a joke.

In 2014, the NBA changed the slam dunk contest to two teams, East and West. Each team had four participants and had two minutes to throw down as many dunks as possible. Everyone hated that format so they went back to the old format last year.

This year, the dunk contest was spectacular. It became a showdown between last year’s champion Lavine and second-year Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon. It took three overtime dunks because they both kept getting 50s (perfect scores). Lavine ended up edging Gordon out with a in-between the legs dunk from a couple inches inside the free throw line. This made Lavine only the fourth player to win back-to-back dunk contests.

Later that night and the next day many people compared this dunk contest to what most people call the greatest dunk contest of all time. I am referring to the 1988 dunk contest, which boded arguably the best dunker of all time in Dominique Wilkins and the best player of all time in Michael Jordan. Some people went to the lengths to say this year’s contest was even better. To me this is preposterous.

There’s only one reason: star power, or a lack of it. Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon do not even start for their respective teams. Jordan was just entering his prime and becoming one of the most iconic sports legends and won the MVP in the 1988 All Star Game. Wilkins was also an All-Star. Lavine and Gordon will maybe be lucky if both of them even get to one all star game. Jordan and Wilkins are both hall of famers. The only way to make this comparison is if you had guys like Lebron James and Russell Westbrook facing off.

Until we get superstars in the dunk contest, it will never be the same as it was in the 80’s. You can say that the dunk contest is back from a dunking standpoint, but until you get the star power it will never be parallel to that dunk contest.