LeBron James has made it very clear that he has no interest in participating in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend. Like, ever. He's teased us before only to see his interest wane and eventually peter out. He's done so multiple times without coming through, no matter who's pleading or putting up dough. And while this is frustrating, it's also fine in the context of an event that's mostly been a showcase for younger and lesser-known players of late (this year excepted) and one in which any LeBron dunk that wasn't utterly transcendent would seem disappointing. I mean, it's a bummer, but you can understand it.
Correction: You can understand it right up until you see LeBron do stuff like this dunking display, which followed a full (and by all accounts very good) Miami Heat practice in advance of the team's Tuesday matchup with the Phoenix Suns in Arizona, as captured by Sports360AZ.com:
Because after you see that, you can't help but think, "Give us a break, LeBron."
There's no chance in hell that a LeBron Dunk Contest performance would be anything less than fantastic. And if he did that — or something approaching that minus the off-the-wall stuff, because it'd be awful tough to do that in
New Orleans Arena Smoothie King Center — and someone somehow managed to overcome his mammoth horde of fans and social media followers to beat him, well, all that would mean is that we just saw something very, very remarkable in the Slam Dunk Contest, which would be pretty neat for all involved.
James doesn't owe us anything — it's his life, it's his body, it's his NBA title to defend, it's his world (for now) — and we get that. It's just hard as a fan to see stuff like this, or like the pre-game monsters he started throwing down last season as the Heat turned layup lines into impromptu dunk contests, and not feel like every All-Star Saturday that doesn't feature James in the main event represents another missed opportunity to see something amazing and unique. Oh, well.
If you're in the market for a slightly different angle and a look at a couple of dunks that didn't make it into the cut above, check out the following from ArizonaSports.com:
Here's how the off-the-back-wall tomahawk — which calls to mind Blake Griffin's similarly styled throwdown from Team USA practices back in the summer of 2012 — looked from Dwyane Wade's vantage point:
And the off-the-side-wall double-pump reverse, for good measure:
The Heat's official YouTube channel captured LeBron taking off from one step inside the free-throw line:
Look on the bright side, those bummed out by 'Bron continuing to eschew All-Star Saturday competition — at least we got to see these. That's worth something, right?
We'll leave the last word on the matter to the dunker himself:
Someone asked Wade today how LeBron would do in the dunk contest. LeBron cut in and answered for Wade: "Id win."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) February 10, 2014
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