I did a quick Google search on how the previous 5 dunk contests were received by fans. I started at 2017 because 2016 is considered by many fans to be the greatest dunk contest of all time. Also because I didn’t want to go beyond 5 years. The 2017 and 2018 dunk contests are considered bad dunk contests. The 2019 and 2021 dunk contest are considered boring. The only dunk contest that was considered a good contest is the 2020 contest.
This year’s dunk contest was not received well at all. Many are probably saying that it is the worst dunk contest ever. If you watched the dunk contest in its’ entirety, I understand your frustration. The contest dragged on a bit because of the number of missed dunk attempts. As a viewer you don’t want to see missed dunk after missed dunk. I completely understand that. We also didn’t see any new dunks, which is what viewers tune in for.
From that perspective, I understand why people were not pleased with this year’s dunk contest. However, I look at dunk contests a little differently.
Don’t always focus on the negative
When it comes to basketball, my friends would say that I am an optimist. Even when things appear to be negative, I try to find something positive to focus on. This mindset applies to dunk contests as well. Even if the contest itself is a little underwhelming, if there is one dunk that caught my attention, that’s what I’m going to remember. The best example of this is the 2014 Dunk Contest, which introduced the concept of dunking as a team. Viewers were not fans of this concept at all. But when I think about the 2014 contest, I don’t think about the team format. My mind automatically goes to the dunk where John Wall jumped over the Wizards mascot G-Wiz.
The positives are right there
Sure the 2022 contest was a little frustrating to watch in real time, but I was impressed with some of the dunks I saw. I thought Obi Toppin’s final between the legs dunk was impressive. Juan Toscano-Anderson’s first dunk had a high degree of difficulty if you think about it. Jumping over Andrew Wiggins (who is 6’7), while controlling the ball with one hand for a windmill dunk. Although he took multiple attempts to complete the dunk, Cole Anthony’s dunk in Timberlands was creative and impressive.
If I see at least one impressive dunk, I’m good. I know that’s not how everyone sees it. People want to see great dunk after great dunk. Which is perfectly fine. But if I’m always pointing out what is wrong with this contest, or this team, or this player, then I can’t fully appreciate the positives that are there.
Where do we go from here?
When it comes to dunks, I don’t know if there is another level to go to. Perhaps all the dunks that can be done, have been done. We saw Aaron Gordon jump over the Orlando Magic mascot and put the ball under both of his legs. We also saw Zach LaVine do a between the legs dunk from the foul line. In the same dunk contest!!
In order to make the viewers go “did you see that”, players will have to attempt more difficult dunks. Attempting difficult dunks also puts players at a greater risk of injury. No one is trying to get injured in a dunk contest. The players who participate in the contest are professional basketball players. Not professional dunkers.
Should we get rid of the dunk contest? Of course not. But we should appreciate a good dunk when we see one, and there are good dunks every year.
2022 NBA Dunk Contest
I have a suggestion. Watch the highlights of last night’s dunk contest on mute. Tune out all the noise and you might be impressed by something.