All-Star, NBA / Feb 16, 2012 / 11:01 am

The 4 Players Who Should’ve Been In The 2012 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook (photo. Jeff Forney)

The field is set for the 2012 NBA Dunk Contest, and… Jeremy Lin will be there! Ah, not what you might expect though. He’s been included to be the helper for his teammate, Iman Shumpert. Joining Shumpert in the dunking field will be Chase Budinger, Derrick Williams and Paul George. Underwhelming? As SBNation’s Mike Prada tweeted, these four are tied for 41st, 45th, 97th and 149th in dunks this season. That doesn’t mean it’ll be a weak contest, but it’s leaning that way.

Those four could make for a great event. But people want to see the biggest names. The dunk contest won’t ever be totally back until that happens.

Every year, the most hyped, marquee event during All-Star Weekend is the slam dunk contest. The dunk is to basketball what an ingenious rhyme is to rap: that singular highlight that raises the bar of creativity and excitement amongst the participants, while those in the arena or surrounding the cypher simply marvel in admiration. Over the past few seasons, the dunk contest has brought us moments like Krypto-Nate dunking over Superman, Serge Ibaka rescuing a kid’s teddy bear, and, of course, Earthquake Blake jumping over a whip. And yes, many would say that the dunk contest isn’t what it used to be, but with the right cats chosen it very well could be. If David Stern knew what was right for the game, these next four studs should’ve been representing the league in Orlando for a dunk contest renaissance.

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4. DeAndre Jordan
While last year’s dunk contest featured three bigs as contestants, none of them – outside of maybe Earthquake Blake – come close to matching the raw athleticism that DeAndre Jordan possesses. With a crazy wingspan of 7-6, standing reach of 9-6 and weighing 265 pounds, Jordan has unlimited bounce for a seven footer. At the center position, only Dwight Howard can compete with Jordan as a physical specimen. Most people are just catching on to how much of a beast Jordan is as the Clippers are now relevant due to CP3 as their MVP candidate. He started off the year with a monstrous dunk fest on those hated Lakers with two of the top five dunks of the preseason. Since then, he has made the Raptors extinct, and showed capital punishment to the Wizards. It is because of these jams that his in-game dunks are overall better than even when Blake explodes like this. Now should’ve been the time for DeAndre Jordan to invade Orlando and showcase Lob City to the whole world.

3. Russell Westbrook
In 2009, the league allowed fans the chance to vote in the fourth dunker for the slam dunk contest, and somehow Rudy Fernandez won. Three years later and I’m still trying to figure out how the hell Rudy got more votes than Russell Westbrook – unless all of Spain voted him in. Whether it was then or right now, Westbrook clearly is one of the most athletic cats to play the point. Going back to his college days at UCLA, he has had a knack for posterizin’ those much taller than him; just ask no-names like Jamal Boykin and LeKendric Longmire.

Westbrook’s max vertical of 36.5 inches and a rangy 6-8 wingspan to go along with his acceleration speed, clocked at 3.08 seconds within the three-quarters court drill before the draft, makes him a nightmare on the break. This mix of Stevie Franchise-esque springs and zoom of the next cat on this list are what warrants his participation in the dunk contest. It’s a bad mistake he was omitted in ’09. He should’ve been given the chance to show why he was placed amongst the line of great Russells that Kanye mentioned in “Illest Mother$^#&er Alive.”

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  • Conrad

    Awful, pandering field they chose…gonna be a let-down for sure. I understand not including the superstars, but DJ6 should have made the cut (excluding either Buds or Shumptastic)

  • north

    “Earthquake Blake had a spectacular showing last year and doesn’t need to defend his dunk crown, similar to when Kobe did it and Half-Man, Half-Amazing”

    Last year’s contest was hype over substance. Vince destroyed everyone in his comp… but Kobe? Other than the spin the wheel competition (which would have been better had the guys been able to come up with their own thing), that Kobe dunk comp was the WEAKEST. I know the boy can dunk but that year he didn’t have to prove it. He could have won on layups it was that weak. And Mamba didn’t destroy it either.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    I know that he was in it last year, but Javale McGee is somewhere reading what you said about DeAndre Jordan and is wondering if you watched last year’s dunk contest at all.

  • DC

    Lumpert for the lin.

  • LeRoy Green


  • thrillah

    We already know Schumpert is going to come out the winner no matter how he fares against the other 3, for the simple fact that his partner happens to be Lin.

    By the way, the reason Fernandez won in votes over Westbrook was because that was the year after he embarrassed the USA team and Westbrook was a relative unknown at the time.

  • ERIC

    @ north- kobe contest had darvin ham and chris carr who were both pretty nasty dunkers. more difficult competition than some of the scrubs beat.

    We need to understand that most of the stars have NOTHING to gain, but EVERYTHING to lose from entering/losing the competition.

    Every year we get articles on why lebron, kobe, vince, etc should enter.. get over it! the all-stars arent going to.. I agree, they should, but they arent. Lebron will NEVER enter it.

    Honestly, that is a pretty athletic and creative group of 4 players..

  • Austin Burton

    Dunks make the dunk contest, not the dunkers. So I’m not gonna say this year’s field is weak until after I see what they do in the contest.

    Seriously, who was Spud Webb before the dunk contest? Who was Terrence Stansbury? Dee Brown, Harold Miner, Gerald Green … all relative NBA “nobodies” until they made their name in the dunk contest. I’m willing to wait and see what happens before saying the contest is weak or that the dunk contest isn’t “back.”

  • JAY

    What about the dude who was robbed last year? Derozan?

  • bdog

    super weak…why watch…saturday night is going to blow..i hope they add russell or blake changes his mind…what a let down! nuff said!

  • Reg


    What’s the point of him entering, he will get robbed again. No props needed.

  • Reg

    I meant Jay. Stupid phone.

  • RonNation

    funny that yall still think the dunk contest is relevant

  • cmrose12

    Jeremy Evans was robbed!

  • jsmitty83

    Dunk totals have nothing to do with the best candidates for the dunk contest. Using that metric, Shaq should’ve been in every dunk contest during his prime. Just because a guy isn’t a big name doesn’t mean he isn’t going to put on a show.

    Also, just because someone is a great in-game dunker doesn’t mean he’ll be a great contest dunker. Posterizing a guy in a game is great and all, but when you look at just the dunk (lots of time just a one foot/one hand dunk), it’s nothing special.

    Last thing, is I hope the judges don’t reward a guy for gimmicks. Griffin’s last dunk last year was lame – two foot, two hand alley-oop. There just happened to be a car on the court. Look past the flash and judge on the substance.

  • Austin Burton

    I just read that they changed the dunk contest format:

    1. No judges
    2. Every dunker does just three dunks
    3. Fans decide by text/e-mail/Tweet or something

  • ERIC

    new format = #FAIL

  • hakasan

    they should do the dunk contest post all star, rook/soph game… and take the 4 players with the best dunks during the game and have a face off… that way the stars won’t be competing against no names….

  • a-slam

    I like this field, contrary to what others are saying each contestant has something to prove. I’m honestly pretty sick of having stars in the dunk contest for the lone reason that it’s all a big hype job, no actual good dunks. Bringing out cars and two basketball rims and superman capes do NOT make a dunk good. Fuck props, I’m psyched, let’s see what these guys can do.

    @ Jay, Derozan said he was done with dunk contests because of being robbed last year. I don’t blame him

  • tron

    throw elliot williams in there

  • DC

    A good dunk contest needs eight dunkers like the old days and NCAA. Top 4 advance. Add in Jan Vesely (& gf), elliot williams like someone suggested, Eric Bledsoe, and Jordan Crawford.