The Dunk Contest Has Left the Building
No one knows what the point of the dunk contest is. Michael Jordan stopped participating because he felt it was skewing the public's perception of him, making them believe he was just a dunker, or at his best in exhibition events. Rising stars continued to participate, leading to a name change at some point, but Jordan's choice became, in effect, a choice all players had to make at some point. That's why, to save face, at some point it officially became the "rising stars" competition. It didn't help that in 2000, Vince Carter put on a show that expanded the scale of "it's over," another dunk contest announcing cliche. Actually, it was Kenny who announced "it's over," and since then, has been trying to convince us that "it's back." Anyway, it's gotten increasingly hard to get big names to participate, with Dwight Howard's three appearances the bright and shining exception.
With LeBron tentatively committing, Josh Smith talking about returning, and Howard potentially in the mix, 2010 would've been a dunk contest like the olden days. Two huge names, one guy who has proved his legitimacy this season, all of them young enough to qualify but still major figures in today's NBA ... you can't overstate how rad an event this would have been. That would be the dunk contest coming back. Instead, we'll be left trying to figure out what the point is, and why certain cult favorites wouldn't participate, or weren't invited. What we won't be doing, though, is saying "it's back." Because for once, it almost was really, truly, back. And it got just close enough that we'll know what we're missing.