Far be it from me to belittle players’ displays of athleticism, but not only did the dunk contest lack the big names were used to seeing, but the creativity and explosiveness of the dunks were clearly inferior to what we have become accustomed to in years past.
And the NBA can’t let that happen again.
Ever since LeBron James began refusing to participate in the competition, it’s become almost a tradition for other players to do the same. Slowly but surely,the number of superstars will to take part in it dwindled down to zero and we were left with what we saw last year.
Enter Russell Westbrook.
The freakishly athletic point guard is one of the best dunkers in the league, someone who provides us with numerous highlight reels on a daily basis. He’s also a superstar, and thus the type of player who should jump (no pun intended) at the chance to showcase his athletic talents in such a contest.
Well, somewhat luckily for us, he’s at least considering an appearance.
According to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman, Westbrook has not ruled out participating in this year’s dunk competition, which will take place in Houston:
The slam dunk contest at this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend could have one of the game’s most explosive athletes participating.
Russell Westbrook on Thursday expressed his interest in someday joining the field but said he wasn’t sure if he will participate in Houston this year.
“It’s up in the air,” Westbrook said about this year’s dunk competition. “I would (like to) before it’s too late. But I don’t know where I’m going to feel like doing it or not.”
Westbrook, as he has in the past, insisted that he is more of a “game dunker” rather than a dunk contest dunker. Typically, that means a player impresses more with power and by posterizing opposing players as opposed to planning out dunks weeks, if not months, in advance.
“It’s so many people in this league that jump so much higher than I do, everybody else can do it,” said Westbrook, clearly being modest. “It’s a lot of people that can jump. I only can jump high in the games. That’s it. I think if it’s just regular people would be disappointed.”
Westbrook, however, said he does have a few tricks up his sleeve.
“I got a few dunks, but it ain’t nothing that you ain’t seen before,” he said. “These dunk contests you’ve got to dunk on three baskets, do cartwheels and do something to get points. But I don’t know, man.”
Color me encouraged.
Again this is nothing against Jeremy Evans, Chase Budinger or even Paul George, but they’re not Westbrook. They didn’t generate the same amount of hype or interest Westbrook would.
Plus, none of the contestants were able to do this:
Or even this:
I understand that Westbrook believes he is more of a game dunker—though like Mayberry said, he’s probably being modest—but he does also note he has some tricks up his sleeve.
Also, if Westbrook feels more comfortable dunking in a game situation, the league can throw a defender or 10 on the court to make him feel at home.
Personally, I’d do anything just to see him in this contest. Not only is he a human highlight reel, but other stars would be sure to follow, rejuvenating what became a suddenly dead competition only last year.
And that’s the most important notion of all.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.