Cole Anthony dunked in Timberlands. This doesn’t exactly scream entertainment, but if you are a fan of basketball like myself, you tuned in to watch this year’s NBA Dunk Contest and were probably disappointed.
It seems like after Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon competed in the final round of the 2016 Dunk Contest, which, in my opinion is one of the best, the bar has been set too high and fans have not been impressed since. The All-Star Weekend used to be three days where the NBA’s best would really compete to win and represent their team and conference. Now, it just looks like everyone is out there trying not to get injured.
Out of this year’s dunk contest participants, in Obi Toppin, Jalen Green, Cole Anthony and Juan Toscano-Anderson, no one landed their dunk on the first try. Each player did a windmill dunk off two feet from a different spot of the court, figuring it would give them the coveted perfect score of 50 which didn’t happen all night, likely due to the repetition in recent years. The creativity the participants brought to the contest was nonexistent and the preparation was lacking. When you get someone like Blake Griffin, who jumped over a car in 2011 to win the event, you’d expect something similar to that every year. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen. The look of disappointment on Shaq’s face throughout the entire contest said it all.
The only thing entertaining about this year’s All-Star event is Timberwolves center, Karl Anthony Towns, winning the 3-point contest, outperforming even the best sharpshooters in the game on Saturday night.
It may be hard to believe an NBA center is able to outshoot guards in a 3-point contest, but it just goes to show how much the game has evolved over the years. If you were to tell me 10 years ago that a guy like Dwight Howard was going to compete in a 3-point contest, I would laugh in your face. Now, the three-ball is open for any position to shoot. The game is no longer played in the paint anymore, but instead passed around the perimeter until someone gets an open shot from deep.
There was a lot of deep shooting in this past All-Star game, as we witnessed Steph Curry drop 50 points with the majority of his shots seemingly coming from half court. The intensity of the game is not picked up until the end of the fourth quarter or what is now called the “target score,” so, to me, there’s no point in tuning in until the last few possessions when everyone starts to try. With this new era of All-Star basketball, which does not follow the tradition of the East and West being divided to compete against each other, sloppy play and sub-par dunks, the only reason to watch the All-Star events would be the 3-point contest.