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The sad state of the NBA Dunk Contest

Every year the Dunk contest seems to be less and less exciting and fans are starting to wonder: is it even worth watching anymore?

The dunk contest is what fans are most excited about during the all-star weekend. It’s undoubtedly the most memorable contest and it’s arguably more important than the All-star game itself, being that when you think of the 2000 All-Star weekend you don’t think of the game but of Vince Carter’s insane 360 dunks and the honey dip, However, as it currently stands the contest has lost its charm and excitement but this isn’t the first time this happens to the dunk contest.

History of the Dunk contest

The dunk contest started in the ABA during the 1976 All-Star game to show what the ABA had to offer, allowing them to accelerate talks to merge with the NBA. Needless to say, it was a success with Dr J’s iconic free-throw line dunk and the first ever recorded 360 dunks.

In the following season, the contest would continue, however as a season-long event instead of the original format, however, in the 1984 All-Star weekend, the format returned to the style that we know today. During the 80s we also saw the peak of the dunk contest in terms of dunks and star-power that included young rising stars like Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb and Clyde Drexler.

In the 1990s the contest faced similar problems as the ones seen today a lack of creativity and star power. Top-level dunkers like Shaquil O'Neal, Tim Hardaway and Chris Webber never took part in the contest and soon it was filled with mediocre dunks and bench players. The infamous 1997 dunk contest was the straw that broke the camels back, it is widely regarded as the worst dunk contest of all time so much so that the contest was replaced by the 2ball challenge (a shooting challenge that mixed WNBA stars with NBA stars with the objective of scoring the most points from 7 different locations).

After 2 years of not having a dunk contest it had finally returned to the 2000 All-Star weekend and it had a heavy cast with names like Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Steve

Francis. This revived the dunk contest especially because of Vince Carter with his 40 inch vertical and his honey dip dunk. This was the beginning of a new era for the contest, an era with top tier dunks like Dwight Howard’s superman dunk and Blake Griffin jumping over a car.

2016 is widely regarded as the last great dunk contest with the epic competition between Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon, making it one of the best contests ever made, however, ever since then we have never seen anything like 2016 with the only thing that got remotely close to 2016 was the 2020 contest largely due to another amazing performance by Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr.

This year the dunk contest was terrible to say the least, with an anti-climatic finish and being overshadowed by the new skills challenge and the 3-point contest.

Possible solutions

More dunking stars like Ja Morrant are crucial for the Duking contest to become an exciting experience, not only because of their super-star status but because of their incredible verticals. Ja could be that Vince Carter that could revive the depressing state it is in back to its peak.


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