Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James stated Saturday that he pondered competing in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend a few times over his career, but injuries stopped him from doing so.
During an interview with ESPN's Dave McMenamin, James said he thought about entering the dunk contest while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014. At the time, James was coming off of back-to-back NBA Finals appearances with the Miami Heat, and had not yet signed with the Cavs.
"I really wanted to do it. But my body wasn't ready," James said. "I didn't feel like myself out there."
James went on to say that he thinks it's important for players to consider health when making decisions regarding their bodies, especially since many athletes face serious injury risks during competition. He also noted that he doesn't want fans to think he's done improving his game, saying he's still learning every day.
James currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, and they will be defending their title this year after defeating the Golden State Warriors in seven games last year.
He has won three championships with the Miami Heat, and one with the Cavs. No other player has more than two.
LeBron James is one of the top dunk artists in the game now, if not the best. He not only catches alley-oops with ease, but he also dunks with such ferocity and strength that some have labeled him as having "no respect for human life." Before you ask, no, he has never scored on a dunk during an NBA game.
James' ability to rise from the dead after being knocked down by a dunk or three-pointer is another reason why he is considered by many to be the best dunker in the league.
He was born on January 8th, 1984 in Akron, Ohio. As a child, he showed an interest in basketball from a young age, playing varsity soccer as well. When he was in seventh grade, his family moved to South Beach, Miami, where he could play high-level basketball.
As soon as he entered high school, people began labeling James as the next Michael Jordan. However, unlike Jordan, who avoided getting dunked on, James decided to face all challenges that came his way on the court. This includes going head-to-head with players three times our size!
One of the most infamous incidents involving James and his inability to avoid getting dunked on occurred in April 2003 when he played against Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament.
However, James' high-flying performance Thursday night seemed to dismiss that worry. James has now dunked 106 times in 58 games this season, for an average of 1.8 dunks per game. Over the course of an 82-game season, James is on pace for 149 dunks.
LeBron James is averaging more than one dunk per game this season.
James had nine points, 11 rebounds and a career-high seven assists in Thursday's win over New York. It was his sixth triple-double of the season and second straight game with at least 10 rebounds. He also logged his 600th career victory earlier this week when the Cleveland Cavaliers beat Chicago 105-101.
In other words, there's no sign of James slowing down anytime soon. And with rumors swirling about his future with the Cavs, it's clear he's still the most dominant player in basketball today.
The only players to win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest back-to-back are Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson, Nate Robinson, and Zach LaVine. Only Michael Jordan, Isaiah Rider, Kobe Bryant, Brent Barry, and Dwight Howard have won an NBA title as well as a slam dunk championship.
There have been many great dunkers over the years, but only a few have been able to translate their dunking skills into success on the court. The best of the best put on a show every year in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, and without a doubt these are some of the greatest displays of basketball skill you will see.
In 1989, Michael Jordan made his debut with the Chicago Bulls, and from that moment on out he was known as "The Air Jordan". That same year, during an early season game between the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks, there was a contest held after each Bulls' basket where they would race down the court against one another until someone was outplayed which then gave their team the advantage. In this particular game, with the score being close, both teams wanted to win so they brought out their top stars. While the Bulls had Michael Jordan, the Knicks had George Lynch who was considered by many to be one of the best dunkers of all time.
This season, Zion Williamson will not compete in the 2019 NBA Dunk Contest. While his involvement would have helped the NBA gain more viewers, Williamson, the New Orleans Pelicans, and the league will be better served by waiting until next year. When it comes to dunks, nothing can replace a live performance from one of basketball's greatest showmen.
In 2014 when Kevin Durant and Draymond Green were members of the Seattle SuperSonics, they didn't participate in the Dunk Contest because of injuries. Since then, the event has lost some popularity and hasn't drawn as many viewers as before. The latest version of the contest was held in 2017, and no Chicago Bulls took part in it because they already had a player who could win it with just two steps backward - Derrick Rose.
The reason why the NBA decided not to bring back the Dunk Contest this year is because of concerns about Zion's knees. According to reports, he injured his knee during training camp last month and underwent surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear. The injury forced him to miss the first three games of the season. Although he has since returned for four more contests, it's possible that we haven't seen the last of him on the court if he continues to improve at his current rate.