Devil Dish: Dunk Contest has lost its luster

The NBA Sprite Slam Dunk Contest is arguably the greatest All-Star event in all of sports.

But judging from the past few years, Saturday’s show won’t be anywhere near as good as the competitions of 10 years ago. It’s really no surprise that whenever we think of the most epic dunk contests, we think of the ones from 2004 or earlier.

Now, instead of judging who the best high flyer is, the contest has evolved to simply determining which player is the flashiest entertainer.

Too many rules have ruined the contest. This year’s exhibition now features a complex East vs. West battle, and judging in the final round has gone to fans who still can’t even pick the All-Star Game starting lineup correctly.

The contest focuses so much on popularity and showmanship that it seems like the few Dunk Contest winners are the players most endorsed by TNT sportscaster Kenny Smith. Would Blake Griffin really have won the Dunk Contest in 2011 with his dunking ability alone?

Bring it back to the years when contestants were only allowed two dunk attempts in two minutes. Mix the field with superstars and rising talent and start featuring those Dominique Wilkins versus Michael Jordan-esque rivalries again. Maybe then the Dunk Contest can remain the premier All-Star Weekend event.

Reach the columnist at jnacion@asu.edu or follow him @josh_nacion