By Matt Stevenson
February 20, 2015
NBA All-Star Weekend has gained possibly the largest following of any sports regarding all-star games. The various competitions and games played by numerous players from across the league makes for a fun, high energy weekend. Of course, the event most pay attention to is the Dunk Contest. However in recent years the Dunk Contest has lost its vibe. The overuse of props and recycled dunks has many fans bored with the competition as it doesn’t even feature the best dunkers or big names in the contest as it once did.
The Dr. J free throw line dunk, Michael Jordan’s classic “Air Jordan”, and of course Vinsanity have all been created on the Saturday Night phenomenon. Yet as we see highlights from the Dunk Contest now, you don’t remember seeing recent years dunks as much as over a decade and further.
The ratings have been down and the media ridicules the competition for the lack of enthusiasm. This year though, a rookie from the Minnesota Timberwolves would have something to say about the lackluster contest.
Andrew Wiggins held up the MVP trophy at the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night, but his teammate Zach LaVine would steal the weekend with his almost heroic performance the following evening. Like a town in need of saving, the Dunk Contest needed a superhero-like figure and Zach LaVine delivered. Being a 90’s kid we all know of the classic movie featuring Michael Jordan, “Space Jam”. He was the hero Toontown needed to proceed happily.
Well Zach LaVine whipped out the Toontown jersey with the theme song playing in the background and put on a dunk performance for the ages. Flashy, original, and perfection are three words to describe what LaVine did at the contest. A self lob off of the court, LaVine rose up with the ball and put it between the legs and reversed it home for his first dunk. The second dunk he bounced off the court again, rising up with it and smoothly putting it behind his lower back and powering it in the hoop with a forceful jam. The crowd roared with energy, all-stars stared in amazement, the announcers were screaming with excitement, and challenger Victor Oladipo along with Dr. J had a face that said it all.
Receiving the highest ratings in the events 26-year history, Zach LaVine had revitalized the once spectacular NBA Dunk Contest and made it spectacular once again.