Has YouTube Ruined The NBA Slam Dunk Contest For Good?
I’m not sure if you saw it this weekend, but Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin jumped over a car—in front of millions of people—to win the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. That’s right: A car. He caught an alley-oop from teammate Baron Davis—who was positioned strategically inside of said car, poking his head out of the sunroof—and slammed a dunk home in the final round of the contest to best Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee.
And you were….well, less than impressed. Why? Because, he jumped over a car! Or, better yet, the hood of a car. He didn’t take off from the three-point line, do a series of six backflips, turn 360 degrees in one direction and 720 in the other, and then dunk three basketballs while simultaneously reciting every song Lil Wayne‘s ever written. He simply ran up to a car, jumped over it, caught a pass, and slammed it home. Bing, bang, boom. And then it was over.
I’m sure you can sense my sarcasm here, but if you can’t, let me make one thing clear: The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is officially dead—and I’m naming YouTube (and every other video-sharing Web site out there!) as the prime suspect.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the dunk contest—the three-point contest was always more my thing—but for years it has been the staple of the NBA All-Star Weekend’s Saturday night festivities. It’s attracted everyone from hardcore NBA junkies to casual basketball fans and done so by providing some of the most unbelievable dunks we’ve ever laid eyes on. Spud Webb getting major hops and dunking? MJ taking off from the free-throw line with his tongue out? Nate Robinson jumping over Dwight Howard? Dope moments in Slam Dunk Contest history.
Unfortunately, we see dunks like this every…single….day now—and we’ve become desensitized to what it takes to pull off a great dunk. We see YouTube clips of kids doing ridiculously crazy dunks of basketball blogs. We see players tearing down backboards, slamming over other players, and catching reeeeee-diculous alley-oops from their friends. We see them during high school games, rec games and, most often, on courts that were set up specifically for high-flying theatrics.
So, what’s the problem? We have no idea what actually goes into making those dunks highlights. In certain instances—like when a great dunk is captured during a game—it’s clear that it was a one-take dunk. But other times, we’re seeing dunks that were attempted two, three, four times—at least! So while these dunks might be phenomenal, they’re not exactly as sick as they seem when we press play and see them.
That doesn’t matter to basketball fans, though. All they know is what they see. And what they’re seeing on YouTube trumps anything they’re seeing in the dunk contest every year. They’re seeing guys do things that look damn-near impossible all year and then seeing things like a guy jumping over a car that—while impressive—aren’t nearly as eye-popping as what they’re used to. And it that way, YouTube has killed the slam dunk contest. Because almost as soon as Blake Griffin jumped over that car, somebody else out there did him one better and uploaded a video to prove it.
It might be time to finally let go, NBA. Or, at the very least, find a better way to celebrate the NBA’s best slam dunkers.