In a desperate attempt to salvage or possibly reinvigorate the Sprite slam dunk contest this year, the NBA decided to change the format for which the contest was historically known for. Since its beginning in 1976 the dunk contest has always been in one way or another an individual competition, where the title is ultimately fought over by two finalists. This year’s format was announced two weeks ago and met with a great amount of skepticism. The format included three players from each conference would go through a team freestyle round where they would work together to beat the other by means of a 2-1 vote. The winners of the team round would be able to select a head to head opponent, and the first team to win their 3 matchups would be announced as the 2014 Slam dunk contest champions. Leaving fans with a team of three as the champions, and a choice to vote on their phones for the Dunker of the night.
John Wall won the dunker of the night with a reverse pump dunk over a person in addition to his teammates Paul George (Indiana), Terence Ross (Toronto, 2013 Champion) helping the East to a win over the West’s Damian Lilliard (Portland), Harrison Barnes (Golden State) and Ben Maclemore (Sacramento). All competitors showed some extravagant dunks, but the night was overshadowed by the obvious format change and lack of dunks. The team freestyle round took the isolation out of a good dunk, and seemed to confuse the crowd. Following that the head to head round was short and sweet for the west, where they were swept in every matchup and you only saw one dunk from each competitor. In comparison, past dunk contests it has taken up to 8 dunks for a person to win.
The already controversial change was met with immediate negative response from writers, bloggers, and tweeters; most of them described it as “ruined”. Brian Campbell of ESPN Tweeted “Man, the NBA just can’t help itself trying to ruin the dunk contest more. New rule changes are awful. Just let them dunk. And lose Cannon.” “Lose Cannon” referring to the contest’s new host Nick Cannon, who is in his own right a new change and was just as awkward as the contest was itself. Before Ben Gulliver of Sports Illustrated commented on the results of the dunk contest in his article, he began with “NEW ORLEANS — Worst. Fears. Confirmed.”. Referring to the now obvious flop of the changed contest.
Going forward, the NBA will undoubtedly change the format again in response to the bad reviews. Only time can tell what the future of the dunk contest will be.