NBA All-Star Saturday night went out with the bang of a water-soaked firework. To say the dunk contest, the night’s final event, was a dud would be a monumental understatement. This thing was unwatchable.
Unfortunately, my job, which I am otherwise quite fond of, forced me to watch. I wanted to hide under a blanket it was so awkward.
I mean, look at how many times these guys blew dunks.
Obi Toppin won by default. His opponent in the final, Juan Toscano-Anderson, didn’t even finish a dunk. Toppin could’ve laid his final attempt in and still won. He wound up doing a pretty impressive dunk, actually, but by that point, absolutely nobody cared.
Yeah, he went through the legs and tapped it off the backboard before slamming it home. It was nice. He tried that dunk earlier and nearly came away with a wedgie, but hey, he flushed it when it didn’t matter at all. Kudos.
If I sound bitter, I guess I sort of am. The dunk contest should be (and used to be) must-see TV. And I’m not talking about ages ago with Jordan and Dominique or Vince Carter in Oakland. We all remember Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon putting on what I consider to be the greatest dunk show in history in 2016. We have more incredible athletes in the NBA right now than at any other time in the history of the event. It shouldn’t be as bad as it was on Saturday.
But it was, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, for one, thinks it’s Stephen Curry’s fault. In a pretty funny exchange caught on tape, Giannis can be heard telling Curry: “It’s your fault. You changed the game. It’s your fault.”
Giannis is referring, of course, to Curry’s 3-point influence, which has indeed played a central role in changing the way basketball at all levels is played. Everyone wants to shoot now. The 3-pointer — specifically the deep 3-pointer — has surpassed the slam dunk as the most exciting play in basketball.
Giannis is obviously joking with Curry, but it’s sort of true. Unless the biggest names in the sport start doing the dunk contest again, the NBA has to consider making the 3-point contest the All-Star Saturday night finale. That has become the marquee event.
That’s where the bigger names show up, like Curry and Klay Thompson in recent years and Trae Young and Zach LaVine this year. Karl-Anthony Towns broke the final-round record to win the 3-point contest on Saturday, and it was awesome. That should’ve been the nightcap. Having to go from that to watching four non-All-Stars fumble their way through whiffed dunk after whiffed dunk was a whimper of a finale. The only good part of the whole thing was Giannis making fun of it.