Tuesday, January 19, 2010

LeBron's decision: Slam door on dunk contest

It was a thought too luscious to consider. It was something you had longed for -- dreamed about, really -- hoping it was more than words floating in the air like the aroma of fresh peach cobbler.

You wanted to believe more than disbelieve, and LeBron James had left much for basketball fans to discuss: In or out, who could say for sure?

He had dropped hints that he might be "in." Yes, LeBron had weighed putting his name into the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, an All-Star Game sideshow that used to be cooler than the game itself.

But its cool factor has taken a beating in recent seasons. The contest is akin now to pay phones in an IPhone era. For gone are the days when Dominique Wilkins, Larry Nance, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter and Air Jordan himself - the highest of the high flyers -- signed up for the slam-fest.

The contest needed a big name to revive interest in it, and no name in the NBA is bigger these days than LeBron's. Of course, having Kobe back would have heightened interest in the contest as well, but Kobe had done his turn. He won the contest in '97 when it was played in Cleveland, LeBron's town.

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