We know… And if you don’t know, now you know – Dunk Elite athletes raised the bar so high, the NBA players today have a lot of catching up to do before coming close to matching the jaw-dropping contests we’ve put on over the years. To make our point let’s look no further than last year’s Ghetto Games in Riga.
Nevertheless, the young guns of the NBA could make a significant impression in Brooklyn this NBA All-Star Weekend. All four of the Sprite Slam-Dunk competitors were drafted into the league in the past two years (Kobe Bryant will maintain his record of youngest to win the contest, at 18, however these kids aren’t far off the mark). To put their youth into perspective, Michael Jordan had already won back-to-back Slam-Dunk titles (’87 & ’88) before the OLDEST athlete was even born. While these players arguably draw less hype than more established dunkers in the league, I really hope they won’t disappoint (I’m looking at you, 2010 Lebron).
The dunk competition started with the ABA, at the 1976 All-Star Weekend in Denver, Colorado, following the legalization of the “slam-dunk” in the NCAA. After the NBA-ABA merger of the same year, the dunk competition didn’t make another appearance until 1984.
This year (thank Lord) the contest is returning to the classic format – two rounds with three attempts per dunk, no time limits. Each athlete gets two dunks in the first round, with the top two athletes moving on to the head-to-head match up in the final round. The Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks (leading title holders with 4 wins each) will not be represented this year.
Five hall-of-famers will judge this years contest, crowning the 30th Slam-Dunk champion; Julius Erving, Walt Frazier, Nate Archibald, Bernard King & Chris Mullin. All judges have strong ties to New York where the dunk contest will take place on February 14th.
C’mon young guns, let’s show the superstars how it’s done.
Robyn Smith, HBK.