Now first things first. All hoop junkies out there must accept that LeBron James won't be competing in the event any more. Not this year, not next year, not any more. That case has been long closed and even Mr. MVP told that he won't be competing any more. Now we must accept that and move on.
While the dunk contest has been into trouble for the past few seasons due to lack in star power and, say, changes in the format of the event, it does not fail to catch our attention. Each and every year, we see something new, something that watermarks the contest with a specific dunk. Personally, 2011 was a good year, and if not distorted by the changes in the system, 2012 should have been good as well. When Javale Mcgee pulled off the double dunk (2011) and Gordon Hayward threw the perfect double pass to Jeremy Evans (2012), we saw some things that marked the dunk contest still the most anticipated event in the All-Star Saturday Night, no matter how lousy it has been.
Moving into 2013, a year that has the opportunity to catch a less energetic dunk contest from last year, there is a ray of hope that we just might see something new based on how talented and energetic the league has been. No, don't expect Russell Westbrook to be on this because he's just some very special player who won't join these kinds of stuff. Remember, we aren't living in the 80's, 90's, or early 2000's anymore. This is the new decade, a decade where it is illegal to qualify if you are the star of a team (well I may take Dwight Howard as an exemption), or, in LeBron's case, if people want to see you join.
As I said, there's a ray of hope for the 2013 Slam Dunk contest to be a head turner, and thinking of the talents that we might just see competing for the crown, the version for this year will surely top the one from last year. Now who should carry out these expectations? Here are four of them.
1. Gerald Green (Indiana Pacers)
Gerald Green has proudly wore the Boston Celtics number 5 when he won the event in 2007. The following year, he donned in a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey and lost to Dwight Howard. Green has been a mess in his first few seasons in the NBA which led him to an early exit. The following years, he found himself playing on different teams across the globe. Somehow, that seemed to be effective. Last year, Gerald Green made his NBA return with the New Jersey Nets and made an immediate impact for the team. They did not perform well on the standings but Green was pretty impressive. Last offseason, he signed with the Indiana Pacers who are one of the front runners in the East right now, and a lucky team enough to see what Green can do. He is now their energy guy off the bench contributing solid numbers. With his leaping ability and athleticism, Green would be a suite worth betting at this coming February 16 at Houston. I mean, not everyone has the ability to do this.
2. Terrence Ross (Toronto Raptors)
Terrence Ross tickled the imagination of the Raptors fans after being drafted 8th overall. This rookie pulled off some of the more impressive in game dunks that we have seen so far this season, and must be pulling off more in the future. Thinking that the former UConn Huskies stalwart takes his talent to Houston for the dunk contest with fellow Raptor DeMar DeRozan as his coach in his corner, the unimaginable might as well solidify right infront of our very eyes. On draft night, when asked what Raptors fans should expect from him, the kid simply said "HIGHLIGHTS", and he has been fulfilling that expectation.
3. JR Smith (New York Knicks)
JR Smith being JR Smith could be both destructive and entertaining. A regular entry in the dunk contest, Smith could be one of the most underrated dunkers ever in the history of the competition. Not to everyone's knowledge, Smith has been responsible for the conception of the "behind the back" dunk which he did in 2005. He introduced innovations using bounces and his swag really makes him look better when performing his tricks. This year, Smith has been wowing Madison Square Garden with his JR Smith qualities. He is fearless, energetic, and most of all, he's a showman, qualities that proves how he's made for the dunk contest. JR Smith being JR Smith here.
4. James White (New York Knicks)
Some people might ask, "Who the hell is James White?". That's right. James White is a less popular NBA player playing for the New York Knicks this season. But if you ever had the chance to be a fan of college basketball way back in 2006, you will agree with me that the NBA is one unlucky league simply because James White wasn't so successful enough in his former stints. If, in case, he was, the dunk contest would never be the same again. Never. He was nicknamed "Flight 75", and "Flight White" when he was in college and that would be enough to explain why he must be in the dunk contest this year. Michael Jordan gave new meaning to the free throw line dunk a few years after Julius Irving shut the building down with his own. For years, MJ has been the epitome of the free throw jump. That is because James White never happened. It is a bold statement, I know. But the leaping ability and creativity of White is so serious he would leave your jaws dropping, and by the time he steps back full court and takes flight, you would know immediately that sh*t just got real. Highlights of his flying ability here.
There you have it. Four space shuttles waiting to be launched in Houston. Remember, these are just my personal picks for the contest and I'm telling you again, move on, LeBron is not joining. Not anymore.