2014 Dunk Contest was an Extreme Disappointment

This year’s 2014 Slam-Dunk Contest was anticipated to be a positive new addition to All-Star Saturday, featuring the likes of great players/dunkers, and new, refined elements. The contest featured six contestants, three from the Eastern Conference (Paul George, John Wall, Terrence Ross), and three from the Western Conference (Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes, Ben McLemore).

The new rules included the first round as the Freestyle Round, featuring individual dunkers having a 90 second free-for-all session where they could do as many dunks as they wanted in that specific amount of time. Judges then said who the winning conference is based on the dunks from the individuals of that conference.

2014 Dunk Contest was an Extreme Disappointment

The next round featured team dunks, so Wall, George, and Ross vs. McLemore, Lillard, and Barnes. with the winning conference of the Freestyle Round choosing the order of teams in the next round. The three judges (Magic Johnson, Dr. J, and Dominique Wilkins) then choose the winning team of each round, and the first team to three wins was then declared the winner. Confusing, right?

Not only was this new set of rules perplexing, but it was also extremely inefficient and pitiful to watch. I watched the contest last night with my fraternity brothers, and it seemed that every few seconds someone was frustrated or confused by the structure of this dunk contest.

First off, there were no more individual winners, just teams. The frustration of that is the great dunkers that were in the contest (normally unheard of dunkers are in the competition) didn’t differentiate themselves from one another, meaning it took away the excitement of having an individual winner rising to the occasion over five other amazing dunkers.

Secondly, no 50 ratings were given, or any ratings at all. Instead, the judges only rated which conference dunked better. That’s like the pass-fail grading system used in other countries, an A is the same as a D. There was no differentiation between amazing dunks and average dunks, as long as that conference’s team won.

At the end of the night, the Eastern Conference won, and John Wall was somehow named “best dunker” though the criteria for giving him the award was never explained, and more confusion set in.

The NBA really missed the boat on changing this format, and I know many fans share my feelings that we were not pleased with the changes and the lack of clarity from the league on how the contest would work.


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