Monday, February 21, 2011

If The NBA Ever Wanted To Make The Dunk Contest Fair

written by U-E Sampang (@uesampang)


So this past Saturday night, I was watching this show where some random Asian kid lost his toy, but then a large man in shorts helped him get it back. Then suddenly a choir came out of nowhere to sing while another large man in shorts jumped over a car's bumper while a loud New Yorker with a beer gut sang his praises. Was this a cheesy Disney feel-good TV movie, Space Jam meets Sister Act?

Nope.


Unfortunately, it was the NBA Slam Dunk Coronation. Coronation because there was absolutely no way Blake Griffin was going to lose this thing unless he missed all of his dunks. For the record, I'm not a Griffin hater, I try to tune into as many games of his as possible on NBA Broadband. After all, he is the most electrifying big man in basketball today (shoutout to the Rock's return to the WWE). However, I, like many other fans not from L.A. feel the other competitors were at a serious disadvantage right from the beginning. Home court advantage should not play a part in swaying a judge's scores in the competition:

NEWSOK.com - Thunder's Serge Ibaka robbed in dunk contest
Dino Nation Blog - DeRozan Gets Short End Of Stick Again.

Even DeMar had this message on his Twitter: "No more dunk contests for me unless it's in Toronto!"

It seems every year there are things to gripe about with the competition, so here are my suggestions and thoughts on how to make the competition fair, and not a big fat commercial farce. (By the way, these suggestions are NOT brought to you by Kia).

Fan Involvement
Have the fans vote for who they want to compete in the contest rather than have them choose the winner. The NBA is always trying to get the fans involved, which is a good thing, but sorry, fans shouldn't have a say as to who should be the winner. All you need is a player from India or China to make it to the finals where they could miss all their dunks and still be voted the champion. It essentially becomes a popularity contest or a "which country has the largest population" contest. After the fans vote for who they'd like to compete, the players chosen can be ranked and they can accept or decline the invite. No one wants to see an athlete who doesn't want to be there, so if the athlete declines because they "just don't feel like it," that's okay with me. Keep going down the line until the right number of dunkers accept. This also puts popular players on the spot, making them address the fans as to why they do not want to compete (I see you LBJ, announcing you'd compete and then not doing it!)

Judging
This is the one that annoys me the most. Too many times you see the judges making snap decisions, looking over at the judge next to them to figure out what to score the dunk, getting influenced by the home crowd's reaction, very ambiguous ways of scoring a player who's missed many dunk attempts (Hello Nate!).

Here's how we fix it:

Judges – Put them in separate sound proof booths facing away from the action, maybe on the opposite end of the court. Let them see only the successful dunk on an in-booth monitor, from a couple of angles, regular speed and in slow motion. Put cameras on them so the fans can see their reaction and Charles Barkley can make fun of their reactions and wardrobe. Heck, maybe even put a mic in there so they can explain why they gave a dunk a certain score. No more, looking at other scorecards, no more home crowd influence, no more missing the details of the actual dunk.

Scoring: Allow decimal point scoring. It makes it more precise with less chance of a tie for advancing.


Penalties for missed dunks: After the final score out of 50 is tallied, subtract 0.5 of a point for every missed dunk attempt. This way, the judges only have to judge the successful dunk itself and the missed dunks will just be a simple calculation. Personally, I think DeMar's first dunk this year should have gotten a 50. But he did have 5 missed attempts. With my proposed penalty system, the dunk would net a 47.5 and Nate Robinson would consistently be in the low 40's. Done and done!

Coaching: Great idea. We saw consistent creativity in all the dunks in 2011. I also enjoyed the videos in the weeks leading up to the contest with the dunkers working with their coaches.

Pageantry: The random Asian kid, the choir, Kenny Smith being a hype man for Blake, it's all okay, I have to give it up to them for making the effort to entertain the crowd. However, it shouldn't be a factor in the judging when the pageantry itself isn't part of the actual dunk. The sound proof booth suggestion would solve this problem while still letting the fans be entertained by the theatrics.

Props: Props definitely make the contest more interesting, I can't see getting rid of them completely being good for the creativity of the contest. There's just something that doesn't seem right about an NBA sponsored car being in the most hyped up, home team athlete's final dunk. It feels very "fixed" in my opinion. And he only jumped over the bumper and front hood, you could've put a king-sized mattress in place of the car. Since it was L.A., why not put Brangelina making out on the mattress, and maybe Blake looks down at them with a surprised face while dunking. I would've been more impressed.

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