UPDATE: The players will be separated into an East (Ross, George, Wall) and West (McLemore, Barnes, Lillard) team and fans will vote for the best dunker at the end of the night……smh)
According to Marc Stein, Paul George, John Wall and Terrence Ross will be competing against Damian Lillard, who already accepted the invite, in the 2014 NBA Dunk Contest next week. Sources have confirmed that rookie Ben McLemore, who has been campaigning all year long, and Golden State’s Harrison Barnes will also be in the event.
If this is true, the NBA and NBA fans that have been crying over the lack of “stars” in the event should be happy. The last time the dunk contest had 3 All-Stars in the event was in 1988 when MJ, Nique and Drexler competed in the 88 home job. The last time the event even had 2 All-Stars was back in 2000 when Stackhouse “competed” against Vince Carter.
Terrence Ross’ popularity, and probably confidence, is sky high right now after his 51 point performance and dunk on Kenneth Faried, so the slam dunk champion is considered to be the early favorite by many.
Unlike the last time he competed as a “lesser known” player, MVP candidate Paul George will have the most fans rooting for him especially if Jimmy Kimmel is part of the act. Hopefully this time we will be able to see all of his dunks.
The latest rumors on Wall before this one was that he wasn’t going to participate in the event. I’m happy to hear that he changed his mind and if you read this article you will know why.
Lillard is an interesting dark horse here. He’s not known as a “dunker” although he occasionally will throw down a nice dunk in a game. Lillard will also be competing in the All-Star game, Rising Stars game, Skills Challenge and 3 point contest so I’m not expecting him to be as pumped about the event or have as much energy as some of the others. Then again, if he wins the skills challenge or 3 point contest, I’m sure he will want to go for a win in multiple events.
Ben McLemore has produced more dunk videos off the NBA court than on the court so far this season, but even when he was drafted, people were campaigning to get him into the NBA dunk contest.
Great game dunker doesn’t always mean great contest dunker but game dunks don’t get much better than some of the ones Harrison Barnes threw down last year. If Barnes brings out Pekovic then you might be hearing Kenny Smith yelling “It’s Over!”
WARNING: Before you get too excited about the players in the event you must keep in mind that the NBA finds ways of screwing up the event. We don’t know what the format is going to be and I’m going to make the assumption that the event will lean towards gimmicks again. This will piss off the “dunk community” but will please the casual basketball fan.