The Endless Cycle of the NBA Dunk Contest



Vince Carter in 2000. Dwight Howard in 2008. Zach Lavine in 2015. Aaron Gordon in 2016. Now, Max McClung, a player that little has heard before, in 2023. See a pattern? 

Aaron Gordon and Zach Lavine had an epic dunk contest in 2016, and we had a first row seat to witness an epic dunk.

But then, we saw year after year of terrible and mediocre dunk contests and, eventually, a call to end the dunk contest. Why is this? Stars are not willing to enter the Dunk Contest because they are fearful of injuries, but also because their athleticism is fading. 

Lebron James, who is famous for never being in a dunk contest, said in an interview, according to Bleacher Report, “I just don’t want to do it. Do I have to be against something because I don’t want to do it?” Stars value NBA rings and MVP caliber season and would rather not waste it on a measly dunk contest that could jeopardize their career.

Creativity is another part. How many different kinds of dunks can there be until they all become the same? People argue that it cannot be too creative because it will take away from what the real objective is: a dunk contest. They say that contests where people jump over planes or things like that ruin the validity of the contest.

So every 5-10 years, we see a phenomenal dunk contest performance followed by years of mediocrity. We are at the top of the cycle, but be ready, Max McClung might have one more good year of the dunk contest, and then we will go back to mediocrity. Say bye to Max McClung and say hello to years of dullness. This is the Endless NBA dunk contest cycle.