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The Dunk Contest during the NBA All-Star Weekend used to be an important event. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still pretty cool and we’ll see what happens this year, but I mean, it had you glued to your television set in anticipation.

The greatest of all time, from Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant, participated in the dunk contest. It was the basketball equivalent of a rap battle. Who’s the illest? You laced up your shoes and you proved that you didn’t just have the charismatic smile for commercials or the confidence to drain a game winning shot. When you laced them up for the Dunk Contest, you also proved you weren’t afraid to put your crown on the line. Who wants it?

No offense to this year’s line-up, but it’s simply missing star power. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zach LaVine, Victor Oladipo and Mason Plumlee will likely deliver some impressive dunks, but it’s clear that there are some important names missing from the Dunk Contest.

LeBron James

25.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 7.4 APG

Who’s a bigger basketball star than LeBron James? While Kobe Bryant is injured and on his way out of the league, LeBron holds the crown as the game’s most iconic figure today, taking the torch from Jordan and Bryant before him. But unlike those two greats, LeBron has been adamant about staying away from the Dunk Contest and it’s unclear why. I mean, he has the skill to do it. We would say “maybe next year” but LeBron at the Dunk Contest has become as much of a running joke as Dr. Dre’s Detox release date.

Dwight Howard

16.3 PPG, 11 RPG, 1.4 APG

Before Dwight Howard crashed and burned in Los Angeles only to reemerge as a less polished star in Houston, he was Superman. Is there a better way for Dwight Howard to regain the star power he once had? The Dunk Contest is where he became a household name and it’s where he could regain the fan’s favor. Instead, he’s decided to keep the Superman cape in the closet.

John Wall

17.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 10.1 APG

Yo, John! You won this last year. There’s a need to defend the title and this would’ve been a great way to highlight what’s already becoming tremendous year. Wall’s averaging an insane double-double right now with 17.4 points per game and 10.1 assists per game. Why not add another Dunk trophy to the shelf while you’re having the season of your life?

Blake Griffin 

22.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 5.1 APG

This dude has jumped over a car during a dunk contest. So, you go ahead and jump over a vehicle and then leave us hanging? Maybe Blake Griffin’s still thinking about that dunk where he tried to pull a Vince Carter only to hurt his shoulder a bit? Well, yeah, perhaps Blake’s worried about his persistent and consistent injuries. After all, that’s why he isn’t playing in the All-Star game. But still, it’s hard not to want him in the Dunk Contest every year. There’s always next year and always another car commercial to profit from.

NBA All-Star Countdown: 5 Players We Wish Were Competing In The Dunk Contest  was originally published on