James White throws down during a November Knicks/Hornets game. (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)
The 2013 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend in Houston will feature two former champions, one of the league's most exciting rookie dunkers, an explosive combo guard starting to earn national attention, a rim-rattling big man and a world-renowned dunker who's already guaranteed a win.
As announced on TNT's pregame show before the Boston Celtics/Los Angeles Lakers game on Thursday night, the six participants in this year's dunk contest are:
• Utah Jazz forward Jeremy Evans, the 2012 Sprite Slam Dunk champion
• Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe
• Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried
• Indiana Pacers forward/guard Gerald Green
• Toronto Raptors forward/guard Terrence Ross
• New York Knicks forward/guard James White
Both Evans and Green, who won the 2007 contest as a member of the Boston Celtics, will look to become the sixth player in the competition's 27-year history to win multiple dunk contests, joining Michael Jordan (1987, 1988), Dominique Wilkins (1985, 1990), Harold Miner (1993, 1995), Jason Richardson (2002, 2003) and Nate Robinson (2006, 2009, 2010).
After the jump: More details on this year's competition — which will take place on Saturday, Feb. 16, and air live on TNT — plus some sizzle reels of each of the 2013 participants. (NOTE: Some of the hip-hop songs used as background music in the clips below might contain objectionable language. Viewer/listener discretion is advised.)
As BDL's Eric Freeman told you back in December, this year's All-Star Saturday Night festivities will feature an East vs. West theme, with the two conferences pitted against one another in each of the evening's events — the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Sears Shooting Stars, Foot Locker Three-Point Contest and Sprite Slam Dunk competition. Evans, Bledsoe and Faried will represent the Western Conference for Western Conference captain Chris Paul of the Clippers, while Green, Ross and White will represent the East for Eastern Conference captain Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat.
Each conference's participants will earn points for their performance in the events throughout the night, with the overall tally determining which conference earns the title of 2013 State Farm All-Star Saturday Night Champion. The winning conference's charity of choice will receive $350,000 while the losing conference's charity gets $150,000 as part of a $500,000 joint donation by NBA Cares and State Farm. The East will play for Big Brothers Big Sisters and Make-A-Wish America, while the West will compete for Boys & Girls Club of America and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.
Let's take a look at our dunkers, starting out West with last year's champ, Jeremy Evans, back to defend his title:
And Clippers dynamo Bledsoe:
And "The Manimal."
And, in the East, the '07 champ Green, who five years ago gave the dunk contest a birthday present:
The exciting Toronto rookie Ross:
Here's how it's all going to work:
The three competitors from each conference will dunk in a two-round competition, with all three Eastern Conference dunkers completing their first dunk (scored on a scale from 6 to 10 by a panel of five judges for a minimum score of 30 and a maximum score of 50), then all three Western Conference dunkers doing the same. The lowest-scoring East dunker from Round 1 will kick off Round 2, followed by the middle finisher, followed by the top scorer; the same re-ordering will happen for the West.
All six dunks completed by each conference will be added together, and whichever conference has the highest total after two rounds will be awarded 50 points in the overall competition. If an individual player gets a 50 for a dunk in the first two rounds, his conference get 10 bonus points. (If the East and West dunkers finish with the same combined score, each conference will get 25 points.)
After the "Team Round," the highest scoring East competitor and the highest scoring West competitor will compete head-to-head to determine the champion. If there's an intra-conference tie, the tied players will have a one-dunk “dunk-off” to see who moves on. This, of course, creates a potential bummer for fans — what if the two best dunkers in the competition come from the same conference? (We're looking at you, James White and Gerald Green.) In that scenario, they'd dunk off, which is sweet enough, but we'd still get fewer of the loser's dunks, which is not sweet at all. Reached for comment, BDL's Eric Freeman had this to say:
What a dumb idea.
Anyway, we wind up with one East dunker and one West dunker. Whichever one had a lower total score through the first two dunks will go first, and the players will alternate, each completing two more dunks. Fan voting will open at the beginning of the Championship Round; the player with the highest percentage of combined votes from all platforms will be crowned champion, earning 55 points for his conference. (If each dunker receives 50 percent of the votes, we bring back the one-dunk “dunk-off” to nail down a winner.)
Which platforms, you ask? Well, fans will have four ways to cast their votes for the winner:
1. Via text message. You can text the last name of the player you think should win to 38657 (DUNKS). For the purposes of quick-texting, the numeric spelling of NOVAK is 66285. You're welcome.
2. Via Twitter. Tweet the player’s last name and the hashtag #SpriteSlam.
3. Via the official NBA All-Star App. Said mobile application can be downloaded on iTunes, Google Play and at NBA.com.
4. Via NBA.com. Just fire up your computer or phone's browser and log onto the Information Superhighway.
• Once they get the ball from the referee, players will have 90 seconds to complete their dunk. They're allowed to miss as many times as they have to during that 1:30 period, but once the ref rules that a dunk has been made, that's the one that will be scored by the judges: "There is no replacing a made dunk, even if time remains."
• If a player goes through 90 seconds without a made dunk, he will be allowed one final attempt, defined as "the ball leaving the player’s (or an assistant’s) hand in an effort to finish the dunk (in any motion other than dribbling)."
• Props and "assistants" are allowed, but must be approved in advance by the NBA.
• Instant replay can be deployed at the discretion of the referee for rules compliance. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.