The NBA’s All-Star weekend has always boasted some of professional sports’s most iconic extracurricular events, highlighted by the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. The participants in the contest were announced today and, as has been an issue in past years, the lack of star-power is alarming. Vying for the dunk crown will be Indiana’s Paul George (the presumptive favorite), Minnesota’s Derek Williams, Houston’s Chase Budinger and New York’s Iman Shumpert.
As various outlets across the country will point out, the story of this year’s contest could be a non-participant, as Shumpert will surely invite point guard sensation Jeremy Lin into the limelight to toss some alley-oops. We’ve seen it with Blake Griffin and Baron Davis, Andre Iguodala and Allen Iverson, and Amar’e Stoudamire and Steve Nash to name a few pairings. David Stern and co. had better hope that a Shumpert-Lin pair leads to something noteworthy, because there really isn’t any other reason for a casual fan to watch this year. Paul George is an animal but isn’t a name-brand athlete yet. Chase Budinger should fit the “token white guy” role nicely, and Derek Williams should just be thankful that he can highlight his unimpressive rookie resume with “Dunk Contest participant.”