The word is that LeBron James is going to enter this year's dunk contest. Well, allow me to be the first to ask LeBron to sit his ass in the stands.
See, everyone automatically assumes that LeBron is gonna light it up. That we're going to see the second coming of Vince "Dr. J" Jordan. Legendary performances, fireworks, backflips and shit. And I just don't see it happening. Now, if it was some other player, it probably wouldn't matter. But it's LEBRON JAMES. The most famous athlete in the world today. That's only gonna raise expectations that I'm not sure LeBron can fulfill unless he can dunk while still sitting his throne.
Physically speaking, yeah, he's capable of doing probably every dunk you can think up. But he hasn't really demonstrated that ability in games.
Look, there are dunkers and then, there are guys who can dunk. Larry Bird could dunk, but he was too busy dominating the Three-Point Shootout. Tim Duncan can dunk. Hell, it's in his name.
But dunkers think about dunking from the time they cross the half-court line. They are always trying to put themselves in position to dunk. And if someone's in front of them, they're trying to go over the hapless soul who thought that blocking this shot was a good idea. A dunker is the kind of person who wants the defender to be in his highlight reel. Vince Carter was a dunker. Kobe Bryant was a dunker. These are the kinda guys who give you a taste of what you'll see All-Star Weekend...by cramming the ball down someone's throat.
LeBron James just isn't that guy. Most times, if he's going towards the basket, he's likely to avoid contact in the air and lay the ball in. He rarely, if ever, dunks on anyone. And his dunks are all generally the same.
Now, there's nothing wrong with that, because let's face it: Dunk contests don't get you into the Hall of Fame. Dunk contests don't even get you respect. If that were the case, there would be a statue of Harold Miner somewhere. And it's not like there's a process to get in. Doug Christie has been in the dunk contest. Jamie Watson has been in the dunk contest. They're not exactly critical about this sort of thing. And when it comes to things that matter, like titles, LeBron James is likely to get his share. In the end, this really isn't a big deal.
But if you're going to be in the dunk contest, you should be showing us glimpses all along. J.R. Rider told us on Draft Night that he would win the contest, then dunked on Hakeem Olajuwon at the start of the following season. They resurrected the contest for Vince Carter, because his highlight reel was that spectacular. Guys like Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Clyde Drexler, and Shawn Kemp did their dunk contest dunks in games. In the lane. Going baseline. On fast breaks.
But none of that is to say that LeBron CAN'T do something spectacular. I don't think anyone saw Dwight Howard's performance in 2008 coming. All of that creativity was hiding in there. Who knew? I certainly didn't. I was thinking we were gonna have a Larry Nance sighting. But he showed his ass. LeBron might have some creativity hiding in there that he just hasn't shown us.
But why put yourself through all that, LeBron? After all, the dunk contest has historically been used to establish players. Michael did it for three of his first four years, back when dunk contests still meant something. I believe the only reason he did it in 1988 was because it was in Chicago. Kobe and Vince both got in once, then didn't even bother defending their titles. The last Hall of Famer to even participate was Dominique Wilkins when he won in 1990. Since then, the only potential Hall of Famers to participate since were Kobe Bryant (1997), Ray Allen (1997), Vince Carter (2000), and possibly Dwight Howard (2007-2009). Most of the guys who show up these days aren't even the leading scorers on their teams. I don't even think Gerald Green (2007, 2008) was a starter.
You don't need the stress, LeBron. You're already established. If you were going to do it, your rookie year would have been the time. You and Dwyane Wade could have brought the house down instead of Fred Jones (2004). Is he even in the league anymore? Who he play for?
Just watch it like the rest of us instead of artificially inflating the importance by BEING LEBRON JAMES. Especially when there's a good chance you can't live up to the hype.