It’s fair to say that, for the most part, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest just ain’t what it used to be. There are plenty of reasons why that’s the case and its well-worn territory. And besides, dunk contests, by their nature, are just going to be hit-and-miss depending on the year and circumstances. It’s not a knock on the NBA players taking part, though sometimes they’re the ones who take the brunt of the criticism over it.
This year’s dunk contest was no exception as many viewers came away feeling underwhelmed by the whole affair.
Let’s never talk about that dunk contest again. It never happened.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) February 20, 2022
Dunk Contest pic.twitter.com/76bYaZVUnw
— Kofie (@Kofie) February 20, 2022
In what is supposed to be a thrilling showdown, this year’s dunk contest fizzled in part because of the way it was set up. New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin cruised to victory following a first-round high score that was never topped, in large part because of so many missed dunks by other competitors. When fellow finalist Juan Toscano-Anderson failed to convert his final dunk attempt after three tries, it gave things a rather anticlimactic finish.
OBI TOPPIN WENT OFF THE GLASS, THROUGH THE LEGS, REVERSE ? pic.twitter.com/rDEDfx0d3D
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 20, 2022
However, while it’s one thing to question the excitement of the dunk contest, it’s another thing to pose that question to the dunker. At least that was the feeling Saturday night after TNT reporter Stephanie Ready asked Toppin if he felt his victory was anticlimatic right after he’d won the big prize.
— Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (@LeBatardShow) February 20, 2022
“Dwyane Wade and Reggie Miller, in particular, had some chatter during the contest,” said Ready. “They were wondering if they should switch the order because maybe it was a little anticlimactic. What are your thoughts?”
Toppin’s response was pretty diplomatic.
I didn’t hear this last year when Simons won for blowing a kiss at the rim pic.twitter.com/0hs4xPxm6u
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) February 20, 2022
“I think the order was good the way it was,” said Toppin. “All these guys are great dunkers. We just came out here to have fun and put on a show.”
Many NBA viewers on social media saw the question as disrespectful or unnecessary to ask at that moment, especially since it’s not as though Toppin. has any control over that.
I stull can't get over what an unprofessional question this was. Biggest moment of Obi's young career but no, lets talk about DWade and Reggie who spent the whole night sucking the energy out of the arena. https://t.co/BySaKVzTAP
— Bryan Armetta (@Bryan_Armetta) February 20, 2022
This was so lame and unprofessional to try to kill the mans Joy after winning..who cares what Reggie and D wade think? Obi didn't set up the Dunk contest..he won it.
— youonlylivetwice (@TonyPedroza1) February 20, 2022
stephanie ready basically told obi toppin to his face that he won the garbagest slam dunk contest in nba history
— Jrue-Tang Forever (@SteadyLosing) February 20, 2022
Stephanie Ready with the toughest question of the weekend. Why was this terrible? pic.twitter.com/XptOylmA2o
— Jason Goff (@Jason1Goff) February 20, 2022
Questioning the setup of the dunk contest is fair and does seem to be an issue worth considering for the future of the event. However, the consensus seems to be that asking the guy who just won the contest is perhaps not the way to go about it.