Should LeBron take his talents to the NBA Dunk Contest?
Dan Madigan: As the NBA All Star Weekend approaches, many fans will be anticipating this year's dunk contest on Feb. 15. Although the field has budding stars like Paul George and Damian Lillard, superstar LeBron James will once again not be participating. This decade-long debacle has no end in sight, as James says he has "never been a dunk contest guy" and doesn't see himself participating in future contests. Although he is a great dunker, not participating is a smart decision for his overall career and brand.
Dalton Zbierski: Lights, cameras, action and the spotlight - These define NBA All-Star Weekend. Many events make the All-Star Weekend special but some could argue that the Slam Dunk Contest outdoes all of them. The dunk contest provides rising players with a chance to be remembered. And it provides superstars with the opportunity to lay down the next brick in what will be remembered as their legacy. LeBron James is one of those individuals. Considered the greatest player on the face of the Earth there is little LeBron has yet to accomplish. Winning a slam-dunk contest would only add to the legacy of one of the greatest players we've ever witnessed step foot on a basketball court.
Dan: Although the dunk contest is very popular, it is nothing like it used to be. The dunk contests of yester-year featured superstars such as Michael Jordan and Vince Carter. More recent dunk contests featured Jeremy Evans and Terrence Ross, two dunk contest winners unknown to the average fan. Simply put, James has nothing to gain from competing against lesser competition and is best suited focusing on winning titles that matter, such as NBA titles and gold medals, to build his legacy.
Dalton: Dunk contest or not, LeBron is one of the greatest players we've ever seen. It's inarguable. Four-time league MVP, two-time NBA Champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, two-time All-Star Game MVP and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, there isn't much James has yet to accomplish. NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion is one of the few accolades he cannot claim. Speaking of legacy, LeBron seems dead-set on becoming the greatest player ever. If he wishes to do so, he must follow in the footsteps of Jordan and win a dunk contest. The one challenge he has yet to conquer, winning a dunk contest would elevate LeBron's brand to a level no one has ever seen.
Dan: There is no doubt about LeBron's greatness, but it's hard to compare a dunk contest title to those prestigious titles and awards. Although the dunk contest is exciting, winning one will not make him a more accomplished player than Jordan. What will do so is winning more NBA titles. The NBA season is a grind and LeBron is better off resting up for the final stretch and playoffs than practicing dunks and risking injury for contest title that is insignificant compared to his other accomplishments.
Dalton: I don't say it often but that's a phenomenal counterpoint. It is true that winning a Slam Dunk Contest is a little in the shadow of a League MVP award or an Olympic Gold Metal and the risk of injury is enough to justify not participating. That said All-Star weekend is becoming more monotonous by the year. It's growing difficult to watch. In the words of Drake, the game needs change and LeBron could be the cashier. The NBA needs as much attention as it can get. For the sake of the game James needs to participate. The dunk contest used to be special. Right now the act is getting tiring. LeBron could make All-Star weekend special again and he needs to
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