Kevin Durant says we need Zion Williamson and Ja Morant in the Slam Dunk Contest. The world agrees but that doesn’t mean it will happen.
The Slam Dunk Contest has waxed and waned over the years, in importance, quality, cultural impact, etc. But the one constant complaint has been that stars rarely participate and so we’re left watching the best dunkers among role players and fringe contributors. The last four players to win the dunk contest are Obi Toppin, Anfernee Simons, Derrick Jones Jr. and Hamidou Diallo.
LeBron James has never competed in a dunk contest. Ditto for Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose. Zion Williamson and Ja Morant regularly produce as many highlight-worthy dunks as almost anyone in NBA history. We’ve never seen either in the dunk contest and modern precedent means that’s unlikely to change.
And that bothers Kevin Durant.
On a recent episode of the ETCs with Kevin Durant podcast he said, “We need Zion, we need Ja. I think the stars need to come back. It felt like there was stars in there every year when I was a kid.”
Zion Williamson and Ja Morant won’t be in the Slam Dunk Contest this year
Durant (and the rest of us) will likely have to wait at least another year to get our wish. Three participants have already been announced — rookie Shaedon Sharpe of the Trail Blazers, KJ Martin of the Houston Rockets and Max McClung of the G League’s Delaware Blue Coats.
The field usually includes at least four participants but there’s no reason to think Morant or Williamson would fill the final spot. There’s no real incentive to participation other than a personal desire to build your reputation in that particular way. For players like Morant and Williamson, with their eyes already on a title, there are just bigger fish to fry.
Check out The Step Back for more news, analysis, opinion and unique basketball coverage. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to our daily email newsletter, The Whiteboard.