It's been just over a week since Raptors' rookie guard Terrence Ross won the 2013 Slam Dunk contest during All-Star Weekend in Houston.
As dunk contests go, it was pretty good, but there wasn't much that made me jump out of my seat. There were some creative dunks, but a lot of missed attempts watered down the proceedings. I started thinking about some ways that the NBA could improve their annual contest.
This is one of the most obvious remedies. First, it would attract more fans to watch the event if the main event is a Blake vs. LeBron finale. There was a rule put in place a while ago which only let players compete if they were in their first three NBA seasons. Regardless, bigger names would make the contest more attractive and add a nice closing to Saturday night. The likeliness of this happening is very slim. Most of the biggest stars want the time off to relax and play in a light-hearted game on Sunday night.
Raise the Rim
Dwight Howard literally raised the bar with this dunk. He showcased his athleticism in a unique way. Sure, he's listed as 6'11". I'm sure other dunkers have tried this. Why not bring this out for the whole contest? Many of the contestants have tremendous leaping ability. We've seen this time and time again when players are dunking in-game with their heads already about the rim. The NBA should want to show this off on the grand stage. It would also make many of the dunks the players try more impressive. Imagine Terrence Ross' first dunk being done on an 11-foot (or even 12-foot) rim. The fans would be out of their seats and some excitement would be back. Or, how about this: first round of the contest is on the regulation rim and no one is eliminated. In the second round, the rim is raised to 11 feet and two are eliminated. The final round has a dunk-off on a 12-foot rim. That would be good TV.
Penalize Missed Opportunities
The dunks were impressive this year. It just took too long to complete the majority of them. The dunkers received multiple opportunities to complete their dunks to what seemed like zero penalty. For example, on Ross' first dunk, he was awarded a score of 50 from the judges even though he missed on what seemed like 10 attempts. Take points off for that. Sure, the dunks wouldn't be as creative since players would be afraid to bring something out they were unsure about. But the surprise would still be there. By the time Ross made the dunk, the buzz in the arena was gone. Everyone knew what he was trying to do. Taking points off for misses would keep the spontaneity up.
The league has already tried this: a dunker gets unlimited attempts for 1:30. That's still too long. Cut this down to 45 seconds. Either that or give the dunkers three attempts. If you can't do the dunk in three tries, it's not as special. Sure, it'll look good. Just think about all those great dunks from the past completed on the first try.
Cancel the Contest
This might not be the most popular solution, but it could benefit the contest in the long run. Give fans the chance to miss the contest. Every year, people are trotted out to perform in the contest. To be completely honest, there isn't much left for the dunkers to do. The originality now comes from whatever props each person can bring out. Giving the dunk contest some time off would make the contest fresh again. The dunkers would be able to think of new things to pull out in front of the fans. Plus, they'd appreciate it more after some time off, like sleeping in your own bed after a vacation. You don't realize how much you like it until you go without it.
Anyways, those are just a couple of opinions. Leave a comment with some feedback or your own suggestions to improve the contest.