Awards 2014: The Saddest Demise of a Once-Great Event

Paul George, John Wall and Terrence Ross led Team East in the 2014 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

And the award goes to… NBA Slam Dunk Contest

It used to be a highlight on the NBA calendar, the unofficial main event of All-Star Weekend. It was the league’s most effective star maker, and the perfect stage to display both the world’s greatest athletes and the one-upmanship on which most of them feed. Most importantly, it was fun.

But now, after what we witnessed in 2014, the Slam Dunk Contest is dead. In all honesty, the warning signs were there. It used to be the domain of names like Jordan, Carter and Wilkins, but stars have stopped putting their names in the hat, scared of injury or embarrassment. Then, when the league messed around with the format (remember the dunk wheel?), we thought it had hit rock bottom. But this year marked a new low. A change in format saw the event go from man versus man to conference versus conference. Despite a talented group—headlined by Terrence Ross and John Wall—players never got their chance to shine, thanks to a new “freestyle” round where the participants raced against a clock.

There were some nice dunks, sure, but go ahead and name three (. . . still waiting . . .). It all felt rushed. No replays, no judges’ scores—it was like the league realized the event was a disaster and wanted to be done with it as fast as possible.

The worst part? While technically the “East” took home the crown after John Wall dunked over the Wizards’ mascot, no one really felt like a winner. Not Wall. Not the fans. And certainly not the NBA.

The dunk contest is dead. Adam Silver, you’re our only hope.

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