Chase Buddinger. Jeremy Evans. Paul George. Derrick Williams.

Let’s be honest. The casual sports fan probably has no idea who these guys are. Even the most loyal NBA fan (myself) had no idea who Jeremy Evans was. Well, these four professional athletes came together on Saturday night for Sprite’s annual ‘Slam Dunk Contest’. After watching the first round of dunks, I had to turn this off to watch something more entertaining. (Luckily for me, Operation Repo was on).

The NBA’s most storied All-Star event that once featured Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, and Julius Erving, has turned into a ‘who is that dude?‘ contest filled with the same old uninspiring dunks. With that said, here’s a way for the NBA to restore the Dunk Contest’s image and bring the game’s best out for the event.

Who?--AP Photo

 

Going back to last night’s TNT telecast for a second. How funny was it to listen to Shaq and Charles Barkley absolutely rip the contest? At one point, Shaq was criticizing the ‘Tribute Dunks’ because no one really knew who was doing the actual dunking. Plus, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers said his tribute dunk was for ‘Larry Brown’, not ‘Larry Bird’, President of Basketball Operations for the Pacers. Some tribute.

Back to the contest itself. As fans who pay the salaries of NBA players, we want to be entertained during All-Star games. We want to see the best of the best perform for us and the Dunk Contest should be the crown jewel of all All-Star events. To me, the NBA’s best dunkers are the following players:

  • LeBron James
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Blake Griffin
  • Dwight Howard
  • Josh Smith

To get these guys inticed to perform, they clearly need some incentive. Here’s how we get them involved.

For all of these athletes, charity events are extremely important. Each year, these athletes doante tons of money to charity and spend time participating in the NBA Cares program. As an initiative, the NBA should have a contest where five under privledged children are selected to ‘assist’ their favorite dunker in the Dunk Contest. Whether they toss a pass, hand them a prop, act as a prop, it doesn’t matter. Getting the kids on the court will not only make them feel special, it’s great PR for the league.

In addition, Sprite and the NBA should donate a dollar for Tweet or Text Vote and divide the votes among the participant’s favorite charities.

This way, athletes have ‘incentive’ to participate and can help make some younger fans feel good. It’s a win-win-win for all parties involved.

Now, it’s just up to Mr. David Stern to figure this out for himself.