Why Stephen A. Smith Believes LeBron James ‘Ruined’ Dunk Contest

'He is personally responsible'


Feb 21, 2023

The NBA Slam Dunk Contest doesn’t have nearly the same fanfare it used to and Stephen A. Smith believes LeBron James is to blame.

The Dunk Contest over the weekend turned out to be exciting, but there wasn’t much buzz going into the event at Vivint Arena. None of the competitors were household names and the eventual winner is a fringe NBA player at the very best. But this has become the new norm for the Dunk Contest, which hasn’t showcased legitimate stars in years.

Smith believes this trend was spearheaded by James, who can throw it down with the best of them but has never competed in the Dunk Contest since entering the NBA in 2003.

“There is one blemish that should be on LeBron James’ career — he has ruined the Slam Dunk Contest. He is personally responsible,” Smith said Monday on ESPN’s “First Take,” as transcribed by Sporting News.

Smith added: “LeBron ignored that obligation, he said, ‘No, I’m not doing it.’ Since he made that decision, we’ve seen year after year after year, the dissipation of stars participating in the Slam Dunk Contest.

“… It’s because of him that others felt it was OK to follow, and that’s why the Slam Dunk Contest is not what it used to be.”

Blaming James entirely probably is a bit extreme, but there’s no denying the Slam Dunk Contest has become a diminished product. In fact, one could argue the NBA All-Star Weekend as a whole needs an overhaul.

Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images
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