The moment Houston Rockets rookie Jalen Green walked out onto the court for his turn in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest with an NFT that had absolutely no relevance to his planned dunk, I knew Green was in trouble. I’m not ready to go knee-jerk overboard and call Green a bust like some on social media after one bad slip in an ultimately irrelevant entertainment competition, but I am willing to say that Green lacked the proper focus when he proceeded to flub his first round of dunks.
Josh Christopher just handed Jalen Green an NFT of his own dunk highlight to wear as a chain. pic.twitter.com/10zkG0far2— Salman Ali (@SalmanAliNBA) February 20, 2022
And while a chunk of the blame also falls on Josh Christopher for failing to execute a simple pass, it wasn’t Christopher who was competing in the contest. It was Green, so the ultimate blame falls at his feet.
It was painful watching Green unable to finish a jam in the first round. It screwed up what little momentum the contest had built up, and due to some stupid rule about the hand needing to come over the top for an attempt to even count as a real attempt, Green got to fail a total of eight times before finally executing a half-assed version of the dunk he had planned on his ninth attempt. It actually wasn’t a bad dunk when all was said and done, but the damage had been done.
Green finished with a 38 in the first round, which was probably a little low for that dunk in a vacuum, but considering what Green put us through to get to that point, I’m okay with it. In fact, I think Green should have been considered eliminated even before the 38. There’s no scenario, in my opinion, where an NBA athlete should be allowed nine attempts to complete a dunk, and it left an ugly mark on the whole night.
A dunker should get three attempts and no more, regardless of the status of his hand turning over or not. And while this may squash some of the creativity a little, I’m actually okay with that. I’d rather see a thunderous, well-executed, more traditional dunk than a poorly executed more creative one, and I think it would also provide better flow to the dunk contest and not allow it to get bogged down like it did last night.
In addition, because of his mistakes in trying to push the envelope and the rules that enabled said pushing, it robbed the dunk contest of its most dynamic dunker. If Green would have just executed his completed first-round dunk near the beginning of his set — which was a little bit easier than what he was originally attempting — he likely scores around a 45 or so and doesn’t get eliminated. Re-working the dunk limit rules is good for everyone. With a three-attempt limit, contestants would be more motivated to complete their dunk than to do something off the wall and near-impossible to execute (and taking nine attempts to do it).
Anyway, NBA Twitter should can it with the “bust” over-reactions for a 19-year-old in his first big NBA moment (I think back to how immature I could be at times when I was 19), but the League should certainly use this as an opportunity to tweak the rules of the Dunk Contest. It ran too late, it was too slow moving, and the steady push for something over-the-top in the creativity department instead of well-executed form and flush led to NBA All-Star Saturday stalling in real time and its betting favorite in the Dunk Contest embarrassing himself in his biggest NBA moment to date.