2014 NBA Dunk Contest: Breaking down the new rules

Right above PBS and right below “MILFs & Baby Oil 4” on my Comcast cable TV guide the other day was a pay-per-view offering titled, “Best of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest,” priced at an outrageous $10.99.

This PPV offering has to be one of the remaining relics of the David Stern era, as there is no possible way that the fan-friendly Adam Silver would subject young basketball fans to such a rip-off.

You know it. I know it. Adam Silver knows it. And sleazy cable companies should eventually know it – The NBA Slam Dunk contest is stale. If you want to see well-executed dunks, all you have to do is type in “NBA Best Dunks” on YouTube and stuff like the above pops up. It’s free. It’s easy.

Since, probably, the Vince Carter dunk explosion in Oakland in 2000, the dunk contest has been in need of a serious make-over due, mainly, to the do-over.

When dunking, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. No matter how difficult a dunk is to pull off, if you show your cards and blow the dunk on your initial try, it’s over in the minds of fans. If you leapt from the 3-point line for a dunk attempt and came up just short on the first try, but executed it flawlessly on the do-over, it wouldn’t be impressive – because everyone already knows you screwed it up in the first place. It’s unfair, but it’s the truth.


Thankfully, we have new minds at work in the league offices. Silver has already made his presence felt in the league’s signature “All-Star festivities” festivity by incorporating this new format:

- Three dunkers on the East squad, three dunkers on the West squad
- The teams go to opposite ends of the floor and dunk in a glorified lay-up line, forcing non-stop action on the viewer
- This “Freestyle” round is timed
- A winning team is decided by a panel of judges and that team decides which dunkers are paired off for head-to-head showdowns or “Battles” (think Mario Kart)
- Whichever team wins three “Battles” first, wins the contest and then fans vote on who the “dunker of the night” is through SMS, Twitter and NBA.com – though I’ll personally be voting through TOUT (’cause I was raised that way).

Confused? Rightfully so. I’m sure we won’t really “get it” until it actually goes down this Saturday (8 p.m., TNT).

But in this particular case of the NBA Dunk Contest, chaos trumps blandness. ANYTHING different is a step in the right direction for those who still enjoy a good dunk.

Follow Metro Boston sports editor and columnist Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS


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