By Rich Taylor
Following widespread criticism of the recently completed 2022 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that next year’s edition will forego current players and will instead feature several legends of the league.
This year’s contest, won by New York Knicks high-flier Obi Toppin, was widely panned for its overall sluggishness, lack of star power, and general ineptitude of participants who shot just 28% during the first round in a dunk competition.
“The NBA prides itself on giving our fans around the globe a premium product,” said the bespectacled executive. “We have heard the feedback and that is why I am pleased to announce our first-ever ‘Legends ‘Slam Dunk’ Contest’ will be held next year in Salt Lake City!”
Silver shared a sneak preview of potential participants plucked from the NBA’s 75th-anniversary team including Julius Erving, Jerry West, Willis Reed, Charles Barkley, Walt Frazier, and Bob Petit.
“This league was built on the shoulders of these legends,” explained Silver. “These superstars understand true showmanship and know that they are there first and foremost to entertain and put the orange ball through the hoop. And that is truly a slam dunk.”
Silver believes that enlisting past heroes of the hardwood will result in more actual completed shots and less unsubtle side-deal marketing stunts during the once-popular event.
“I can almost guarantee that most of these gentlemen wouldn’t know an NFT from a can of STP and at least a couple of them think Crypto is a guy they once played against at Rucker Park,” Silver added. “They won’t be distracted by the latest shiny object. Will someone fail while needlessly trying to soar over a Hyundai? No. But you know what will occur? The ball will go through the [expletive deleted] basket.”
The announcement was met with skepticism by some, including Barkley’s “Inside the NBA” colleague Kenny “The Jet” Smith.
“Shoot, Charles needs help climbing up into his Escalade and I’m supposed to believe he can still dunk?” sniped Smith speaking while superimposed into a replay of this year’s All-Star game. “He could barely elevate in his prime and the only time he puts his hand above his shoulder these days is to order another round.”
Barkley dismissed Smith’s claims saying “A) He tiny. Two. He’s still crying about not making the 75 greatest NBA players list. Third. Shut up.”
Silver admitted that while he expects a ton of fan excitement about a competition roster that includes players as old as 89, fans may have to temper their expectations.
“Fans have to ask themselves; would they rather spend a half-hour watching a player literally nobody has heard about before missing lobs poorly tossed to him by his high school teammate/’social media’ assistant, or see Jerry ‘The Logo’ West slowly execute a fundamentally sound layup?”
Hall of Fame coach and NBA TV Analyst Hubie Brown is characteristically enthralled with the new approach.
“Now, if you’re a fan, you’re going to want to see Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier taking it hard to the hole in a full-length mink coat and diamond-topped walking stick,” Brown said. “If I’m Dr. J, I think you have to consider swapping in the red, white, and blue ABA ball, methodically dribbling the length of the court, and then simply traveling from the free-throw line to the hoop for a one-handed layup. That would be electric!”
Silver promised that additional contestants would be unveiled in the ramp-up to next year’s All-Star Weekend.
He also praised Salt Lake City, Utah as an ideal host city for this first Legends “Slam Dunk” Contest and its participants, citing a “lack of distractions like noise after dusk” and hailing the Beehive State’s “bounty of early bird specials.”
When asked for his thoughts on widely circulating rumors of a dunk-off between holograms of Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins in their prime, Silver had no comment.