There’s no way fans shouldn’t feel disappointed
—and a little cheated—that LeBron James won’t be participating in the Dunk Contest this Saturday during the NBA’s All-Star weekend. The soon-to-be-MVP just couldn’t resist “tentatively” entering his hat into the ring during last year’s three-ring circus of a Dunk Contest, but a potential championship run and apparent lack of incentive (and perhaps the absence of more worthy competition?) will keep him out, even though anyone who follows the Association knows he is the most explosive finisher in the game, and could win on force and moxie alone.
But fans are missing the real potential for a history-making All-Star Saturday: not only should King James participate in the Dunk Contest, he should participate in the Dunk Contest and the 3-Point Shootout. Not even His Airness attempted to make such a dominant statement, and the stats say that not only could LeBron do it, he could be a favorite in both. Last year, he made 132 3-pointers in 81 games; this season, he has made 100 in 54 games, and his 3-point percentage is up almost two full points to 36.1% (his career high) from last season’s 34.4%.
Are these league-leading numbers? No. But look at the dip in Daequan Cook’s 3-point shooting numbers from last year to this year, and it’s fair to say it’s not looking good for the defending 3-Point Shootout champ (Cook shot 38.7% in 75 games last season, and is shooting a mere 31.7% this season). And you know that if LeBron came out and scored 18 or 20 in the first round, and looked like he had his shooting rhythm, it’s not hard to imagine the rest of the field would start sweating a little harder, and that King James would be on his way.
Think about: the most dominant finisher at the rim and the most dangerous three-point shooter are the same player. That’s not even touching on his defensive skills. While he might not be the most consistent 3-ball shooter in the game, as anyone who has watched him play this season knows, he has crazy range, and when he’s hot, he seems unable to miss. Isn’t that what the 3-Point Shootout is, after all? Can you honestly say that if LeBron was in the 3-Point Contest, and could get himself in a good shooting zone, that you would even be surprised to see him win? I wouldn’t. And I think, were he in the Dunk Contest, that it’s pretty easy to see he would be the favorite there by a wide margin.
But he’s not going to be in the Dunk Contest. Or the 3-Point Shootout. So of course this is speculation. But then, if not for speculation, what would happen to ESPN? Probably the most widely speculated topic of discussion about individual players going on around the Association at the moment is simply this: Kobe or LeBron? They are even puppet versions of them trying humorously to somehow settle this debate. There are many factors to consider: LeBron has youth, still has more upside; Kobe has rings. Four rings to LeBron’s no rings. Both are great scores, and the absolute center of their respective franchises’ universes.
But I would say that if laid-back, clowning-around LeBron were to just enter both competitions, it would do something to set him apart from a historical perspective (and Kobe has won a Slam Dunk title before, so LeBron needs to get even there). I know it’s just All-Star weekend, but who would argue that Michael Jordan did much early in his career to cement his legacy by his legendary All-Star weekend performances? If LeBron entered and actually won both contests, I’m not sure what would be more fun to watch: LeBron owning his competition in a way no one ever has, or watching E.J., Kenny the Jet and Charles try not to swallow their tongues watching what would no doubt be the greatest All-Star weekend performance ever. Wouldn’t it be nice…
A post by – rccola3