How to Fix the NBA Dunk Contest

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Close your eyes. Try to remember the last time a dunk contest was memorable. You probably just thought of 2016 with Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine. Now think of the next best, was it 2011 with Blake Griffin jumping over a car? Two dunk contests that stick with you in the past 10 years? It just goes to show that the 2010s was a HORRIBLE decade for dunk contests, but I’ve got an idea to fix them for the 2020s.

I have not seen much push back since the skills competition has gone to a bracket/tournament style of contest. Why not do that for each event? Picture the Home Run Derby, the contest brings out the best of each player. The Dunk Contest could do the very same! Similar to the Derby, the Dunk Contest would be a bracket-style. Eight willing participants will be seeded based on the following criteria (First is the higher priority and so on). First will be based on past dunk contests success. Second, the number of dunks they have this year. Third an audience vote based on who is willing to participate.

Think when the dunk contest was best, it was Michael Jordan vs. Dominique Wilkins, Zach LaVine vs. Aaron Gordon, Blake Griffin vs. JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard vs. Nate Robinson. Why not try to capture that 1-on-1 aspect that the fans have loved, and bring it to a Dunk Contest that could use some change.

What It Would Look Like This Year

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Now these names are placeholders for now. But, if Dwight Howard wants to participate, he’s going to have to win each round against one other contestant. Obviously the seeding would be difficult, but similar to the skills contest and Home Run Derby, the fans do not care about where each player ends up on the bracket, they just want to see the product.

The Rules

  • In the first and second rounds, each contestant will have two dunks, each with three attempts to get the highest score.
  • In the final round, each contestant will have three dunks, each with three attempts to get the highest score.
  • If a tie occurs, the dunkers will go into a ‘dunk-off’, where the highest scorer will advance.
  • Each contestant must use at least one teammate for a dunk in the whole contest.

Why It Would Work

I think no matter the player, they will be competitive and want to out-duel their opponent. I mean it’s their job to win games. On top of that, fans have loved the 1-on-1 aspect of the Skills Contest, and so have the players. Imagine the trash talk between players on social media and at the event. I think it works, and it is certainly something the NBA has to consider.

What an All-Time NBA Dunk Contest Look Like Done This Way

For the sake of this, all of these players are in their prime.

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Who would win this hypothetical Dunk Contest? What do you think of the bracket based Dunk Contest? Join the Discussion!

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