Feb 22, 2022 - Sports

The future of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Obi Toppin goes for a slam dunk in the final round.
Slam Dunk Contest winner Obi Toppin goes through the legs. Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Saturday's Slam Dunk Contest was an atrocity. Guys struggled to complete their dunks, which lacked creativity, and it was legitimately hard to watch on TV, let alone from inside the eerily quiet arena.

Driving the news: Some are calling for the event to be canceled, or at least put on hiatus, which actually has precedent.

  • After a terrible showing in 1997, the 1998 event was replaced by a shooting contest called "2-Ball." The following year, a lockout canceled the entire 1999 All-Star Weekend.
  • Then, in 2000, Vince Carter made the Slam Dunk Contest great again with an iconic performance that will perhaps never be topped.

The big question: Will the contest return to glory in the coming years, or should the NBA be concerned about its future?

  • On one hand, perhaps all it takes is a few big names — or the next Vince Carter — to revitalize the event. High-flyers like Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon dazzled the crowd in recent years, and these things tend to be cyclical. Patience.
  • On the other hand, there are only so many ways to put a ball through a hoop: Could we be running out of dunks? That's part of why more stars don't participate — it's become too gimmicky, and there are more ways to embarrass yourself than actually shine.

More All-Star Weekend:

Go deeper