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Wall, Lillard, George headline new look All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest

Feb 6, 2014, 8:55 PM EDT

Detroit Pistons v Washington Wizards Getty Images

If all of us — red state, blue state, regardless of religion or skin color — could come together and agree on just two things they would be:

1) Kevin Durant’s new puppy is really cute.

2) The NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest needed some life injected into it.

The NBA has heard you on Number 2. The league is trying to do that in two ways this year in New Orleans, when the Sprite Slam Dunk contest takes place on Feb. 15.

First, they brought in some star power. Here are your contestants for this year’s dunk title crown.

Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
John Wall (Washington Wizards)
Terrence Ross (Toronto Raptors)
Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors)
Ben McLemore (Sacramento Kings)

That’s three guys selected to the big game on Sunday night (Wall, Lillard, George) who can all throw it down, as well as last year’s defending champion, Ross.

Then there is a new format that pits the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference.

First, there is the “Freestyle Round” — for 90 seconds all three dunkers for each conference can showcase as many dunks as they want. Whatever dunks they want. At the end of each conference’s 90 seconds, the judges will choose a winner, East or West.

The winning conference gets to decide if its dunkers go first or last in the “Battle Round.”

In that second round a dunker from each conference will have a little head-to-head dunk-off pitting East dunkers vs. West dunkers. For example, it could be Wall against Lillard — they each throw down a dunk, the judges vote for the best dunk and the loser is eliminated. The first team to win three “battles” will have his team crowned the 2014 Sprite Slam Dunk champions.

Then you the fans come in — you (and tens of thousands of your closest friends) get to choose the ultimate winner, the “Dunker of the Night” through votes cast via SMS, Twitter, NBA.com and the NBA GameTime app.

Traditionally I’m in the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” camp, but the dunk contest is broke. It has been very up and down — it’s a lot of fun when a big personality like Nate Robinson or Dwight Howard took over the event, but a lot of years it has been down. (I will add this is an event that is just not as impressive on television as it is in person.)

So why not shake it up? I have no idea if the new format is really going to work or not, but with all these big names we should see some monster throwdowns. I’m actually pumped about the event this year, which is a sign the league has gotten something right.

  1. evermench - Feb 6, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    T-Ross throw it down! Defend that title!

  2. seattlesuperchronic - Feb 6, 2014 at 10:37 PM

    Puppies are great. Agreed.

  3. archilochusColubris - Feb 6, 2014 at 11:01 PM

    Hmm… I wonder if ‘Dunker of the Night’ will be related to a player’s popularity…

    Sorry T-Ross, I think it might be a bit difficult for you to repeat.

  4. hollywood26 - Feb 7, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    John WALL!!!!!!!

  5. wowwowbad - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:57 AM

    Not over-excited about this line-up. T-Ross obviously is the stud here, George probably will get some love. But others… Wall and Lillard are very good players and probably future superstars, but on dunk contest? Wall is an above-average leaper but he’s even not the best dunker on his team(Ariza is.) Lillard is never a “dunker” by any means, he’s a terrific scorer and a deadly deadly assassin beyond the arc, but… he’s just not a dunker to me. McLemore is very athletic, but watching his dunks don’t make me feel special…Harrison Barnes… throw some angry dunks sometimes but… This is the Dunk Contest, you need to show power, smooth, leaping, and most importantly, creativity.

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