It's now official. John Wall will indeed make his first appearance in the Slam Dunk Contest after originally being on the fence about participating. Wall will join a star-studded field that features Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George, fellow young All-Star point guard Damian Lillard, defending champion Terrence Ross and youngsters Harrison Barnes and Ben McLemore.
Kenny Smith, for what it's worth, predicted that Wall would win the event. The rest of the TNT panel wasn't so sure.
Of course, "winning" is a weird term this year because ... there's no individual winner. This is the new format, from the Wizards' press release.
This year's dunk contest will feature the participants competing as a team - three players representing the Eastern Conference and three players representing the Western Conference - in a two-round format. The competition will tip off with a Freestyle Round where the dunkers for each conference will have 90 seconds to showcase as many dunks as they want. At the conclusion of the Freestyle Round, the panel of judges will then choose a winner by voting "East" or "West." The winning conference will earn the advantage of deciding whether its dunkers will dunk first or second in the head-to-head battles that take place in the Battle Round. The Battle Round will feature head-to-head matchups pitting East dunkers vs. West dunkers, with the judges choosing a winner for each battle. Upon losing a head-to-head battle, that dunker is then eliminated from the competition. The first team to win three battles will win the competition and be crowned 2014 Sprite Slam Dunk champions. That's ... really dumb.
UPDATE: I guess there is a "dunker of the night." Still, suuuper confusing.
After the competition, fans will also have the opportunity to vote for the player of their choice as "Dunker of the Night" through SMS, Twitter, NBA.com and the NBA GameTime app.
It appeared that Wall might sit out the dunk contest due to injury concerns, but he ultimately changed his mind. Perhaps he did so because of the star-studded field, and perhaps he did so because his representatives convinced him the exposure was worth it. Either way, with Wall and Bradley Beal both showcasing their skills on All-Star Saturday Night, the future of the team is well-represented on one of the league's biggest nights.
Here is the original post.
UPDATE: Sounds like John Wall will indeed be in the Slam Dunk Contest.
Source: John Wall will take part in Slam Dunk contest All-Star weekend in New Orleans. #WizardsTalk— Chris Miller (@cmillscsn) February 6, 2014
A few days ago, it sounded like John Wall was going to decline the invitation he was given to participate in the 2014 Slam Dunk Contest. He still might, and we'll find out for sure tonight. But he also might not, at least according to the latest reports.
Wizards guard @John_Wall still seriously considering entering the NBA dunk contest, a source said.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) February 6, 2014
And Marc Stein went so far as to say that the field has been set with Wall in it.
Hearing tonight that Paul George, John Wall and Terrence Ross could all wind up joining Damian Lillard in dunk contest at All-Star Weekend— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 6, 2014
You might recall that Wall was previously worried about his health and preferred the less-strenuous Skills Competition instead. Still, he left the door open to changing his mind if the rest of the field included All-Star-caliber players instead of the usual random youngsters. A field of Ross, George and Lillard certainly measures up to Wall's standards.
We'll find out for sure at 7 p.m. tonight when the Dunk Contest and Three-Point Shooutout fields are unveiled. Bradley Beal is a likely participant in the latter.
UPDATE: We'll actually find out for sure even sooner than tonight.
Bradley Beal said he "probably will" participate in 3-pt shootout. John Wall to make announcement on Skills or Slam Dunk after practice— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) February 6, 2014
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