Culture of Hoops

The Case for More Changes to the Home Run Derby and Slam Dunk Contest

Let me start by saying I am a gigantic fan of NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver and MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred.

Commissioners of both leagues are certainly on top of the current era, and have also made many positive changes for the betterment of their respective sports. For instance, the expansion and consistency of replay for the Major League Baseball under Manfred and its growth with the new west coast replay headquarters has greatly helpd the game. Silver deserves credit for close attention to detail of the global market, introducing talks of earlier games to accommodate to prime time television in China.

But with the progression of modern times, we have seen certain marquee All-Star events in both leagues become antiquated. Can MLB and the NBA bring back the passion and excitement to the Home Run Derby and the Slam Dunk Contest?

MLB has changed the format of the ever exciting Home Run Derby this season. Instead of every man for himself, there will be seeded brackets this year. Players will square off in timed rounds, playing a type of one-on-one to advance to the next round. Players will be seeded according to season home run totals and tie breakers will be decided by amount of home runs hit since the beginning of July.

Sounds like pretty exciting stuff!

Not only that, but it proves that MLB has recognized the need for a change in an age-old tradition, keeping the history alive with a new twist. The Derby changes have yet to been proven successful until it takes places on July 13th so the consequences are unclear, but the willingness of the league to try something new is worthy of praise

Adam Silver and the NBA should be paying attention.

The NBA’s equivalent of the Home Run Derby is the Slam Dunk Contest. Full of history and highlights, it has become a staple of the league. In the 80’s and 90’s it was a major achievement for some of the league’s biggest names to take home the Dunk Contest crown. Recently it has turned into a group of players no has ever heard of before, or again, trying dunks they have seemingly never practiced or even attempted, being judged by non players texting in to vote on the dunk enjoyed the most from their couch. With the once heralded event lacking spark, the three-point contest surpassed it as most watched even at this year’s NBA All-Star break .

The event just has not been as exciting since Nate Robinson jumped over Dwight Howard.


While the NBA has made minor changes to the format over the years, something needs to be tweaked to keep fans attention past the first round of dunks. More importantly, why are all the superstars avoiding one of the biggest national stages for their sport? Blake Griffin solidified national name recognition for himself through the dunk contest early on in his career, but where are the already established superstars? Why are we routinely teased with the possibility of superstars like LeBron James entering the contest for it all to turn out to be nothing more than speculation? Has the current crop of NBA Stars forgotten that Michael Jordan began his way to legendary status through fiercely contested battles with Dominique Wilkins years before he ever captured his first NBA Championship ring? Maybe the NBA should introduce bigger incentives to their star players that choose to participate.

If I see these things you better believe league officials do as well. And if I am asking these questions, they should be as well.

While the NBA and MLB are moving in the right direction with positive changes to improve both their respective sports overall, more change is still needed to bring back the excitement to these marquee events for generations to come.

After all, change for the sake of change is silly, but so is not changing when the writing’s on the wall directly in front of you.

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