12 February 2014

The new Slam Dunk Contest format is silly

The 2014 NBA Slam Dunk contest will have one of the strongest fields in years, as pictured above, and will also be the first dunk contest since the glory days of 1988 that there has been three All-Stars in the field (George, Wall, Lillard). But also with the strong field comes an absurd new format that will help to undercut what the dunk contest is all about.

As you can also see in the above picture, the teams are being split up into teams from each conference. The dunkers will be part of their conference team and instead of an individual champion as has been traditionally the case, there will be a team champion.

Before I get further into it, how absurd is that? Can you imagine the legendary dunk contests of yesteryear being won by say the "Eastern Conference?" It is important to note that a "Dunker of the Night" will be voted on by the fans, but that only means that the top dunker could be on the losing conference, which makes the conference concept feel even more absurd if the top dunker is on a team where his teammates are not up to snuff.

But there's more. The opening round will be a "Freestyle Round," a 90-second opening round in which the dunkers on both teams can perform as many dunks as they wish or can do, and they can assist each other in performing said dunks. I actually like this idea a lot, it opens up the contest at a time when it traditionally gets bogged down due to missed dunks, and could make for some exciting action. What I don't like about this is that the judges will be choosing the winning conference and holding up "East" or "West" signs instead of the traditional numbers given for individual dunks.

The winning conference will then choose whether to go for or second in the "Battle Round," which is a series of one-on-one matchups between East and West with the judges decided who wins each and the losing dunker being eliminated. The conference that wins three matchups will be crowned Slam Dunk Contest champions. Again, I do like the one-on-one format in this round, but the team aspect completely destroys it because one guy could theoretically be awful in the Battle Round, or not even make a dunk at all, and still be crowned a champion.

Now was the Slam Dunk Contest before this perfect? No, of course not, it had its fair share of flaws namely weak fields, but moving to this conference format has bastardized the dunk contest and what it historically has been, a coronation of the best individual dunker in the contest.

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