John Wall threw down the last and best dunk of the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.
Wall led the Eastern Conference to a sweep of the Western Conference in the battle round to take the team competition. In doing so, he took the Sprite Slam Dunker of the Night trophy in a reformatted competition that received mixed reviews.
Defending champion Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors beat Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who is in five All-Star Weekend events, in the first battle round, which pitted an East and a West dunker head-to-head. Ross got votes from judges Dominique Wilkins and Julius Irving while Magic Johnson went for Lillard. Ross used a between-the-legs dunk while grabbing the ball from Raptors minority owner and rapper Drake’s outstretched hand.
Indiana Pacers forward Paul George beat Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes with a reverse-spin dunk while putting the ball between his legs. All three judges ruled in favor of George, who used all three of his attempts to nail the impressive slam.
Then Wall closed out the East victory by beating Sacramento Kings rookie Ben McLemore with a 3-0 sweep. McLemore brought out Kings co-owner Shaquille O’Neal and dunked over him sitting in a throne, but Wall had a reverse, two-handed dunk over Wizards mascot G-Wiz that thrilled everyone. USA Today
The dunk contest was not bad but it definitely felt incomplete.
The new format pits dunkers from both conferences against each other. Instead of posting scores, judges now just pick East or West to determine winners for a freestyle round and head to head battles in the second round. The East got nearly every potential vote because they had better dunkers. Harrison Barnes and Damian Lillard should not have been in the contest anyway, and Ben McLemore’s great dunk was just outdone by an even more fantastic jam by John Wall. This meant the contest was over in very short order, leading to lots of confusion and disappointment by fans.
even the announcers were confused about that format lol
— Michael Cho (@Michael_Cho) February 16, 2014
— Rembert Browne (@rembert) February 16, 2014
I’m gonna watch the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest now to make me feel better.
— Michael Smith (@michaelsmith) February 16, 2014
Just when the NBA dunk showcase, not contest, was getting good it ended. Disappointed fans can’t leave arena fast enough. Whose idea at NBA?
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) February 16, 2014
Everyone wanted to see the best dunkers go against each other: Paul George, Terrence Ross, and John Wall who are all members of the Eastern Conference. They worked extremely well together during the freestyle round which made it feel like an even bigger tease.
It has not been explained why the format was changed to East versus West, but I would recommend going back to the ways of old. As soon as the contest became exciting, it was over. What’s the point of the contest if the best are not competing against each other? It was fun to watch but frustrating to see it end so soon.
Here are some of the other great dunks from the contest. – AL
Featured image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.