How to fix the NBA Dunk Contest

OK, that was terrible. All year we’ve looked forward to the new format of the NBA Dunk Contest, and after a shorter-than-expected period of mediocrity, it mercifully ended.

The NBA did a great job of assembling a group of six talented and exciting dunkers only to give them no real chance to show their stuff.

First, let’s acknowledge what did work well about All-Star Weekend: the extra emphasis on East versus West. All the different contests directly pitted the two conferences against one another, which worked well for all contests except the Dunk Contest.

 
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So how do we fix this? Good question.

Let’s completely get rid of the freestyle round. The 90-second barrage had plenty of cool dunks, but because they were all one after another, we had no time to “ooh” and “ah” each slam.

However, I do like the idea of a “group dunk,” so we can tweak that.

Replace the freestyle round with three 30-second periods for each conference to perform a group dunk, with all three players on their respective sides acting as the “finisher” on one dunk.

The East could have John Wall doing a pass to Terrence Ross, who lobs it to Paul George for the flush. The other two periods have Ross and Wall finishing the dunks.

The highest-rated “finisher” from each conference would move on to a final battle round.

The last round consists of three dunks. The first dunk is simple: just player and ball, no fancy props or leaps over Shaq.

Once the player finishes his first dunk, he then can use props and Shaq-like-objects for his second.

For his third and final dunk, he brings out his two conference teammates for another group dunk. If Ben McLemore faces off against George in the Battle Round and scores higher overall in the three dunks, he’s the new champion.

Keep the conferences divided, emphasize teamwork and simplicity, while also keeping individuality and creativity.

Reach the columnist stheodor@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @shane_writes