LeBron James isn’t just the best player in the NBA – he’s the best athlete on the planet right now (sorry, Messi). The 6-foot-8, 260-pound freak is on his way to another MVP award, and likely another NBA Championship ring, Harlem Shaking and throwing down all sorts of nasty pregame dunks along the way. He’s got Olympic Gold. What’s left for him? The dunk contest, of course! Magic Johnson threw down a $1 million gauntlet Friday night, it was everywhere Saturday, and Sunday after torching the Knicks, LeBron got asked about it.
“Right now, I don’t know,” he said. “It doesn’t really stand anywhere. Right now, I’m so focused on what we’re doing as a team. Shoot, All-Star weekend is how far away?” he said of next February’s showcase in New Orleans. “So I’m really not thinking about right now. It was entertaining to hear him say that, though.”
He might as well have said, ‘yes, no, maybe so.’ This means the story will remain on a low simmer until someone sneakily asks LeBron, maybe four weeks from now during an unguarded moment “so, what about that dunk contest?” and LeBron says something like, ‘yeah, that’d be a lot of fun,’ and boom, it’s a story.
Hey LeBron, here’s a quick reminder from Woj: Your last TV event was a disaster.
How did it work out for James the last time that network sucked him into a made-for-TV event? He doesn’t need Magic Johnson’s money, nor ESPN’s, nor a dunk contest that’s far beneath him now. James doesn’t need to walk directly in Jordan’s footsteps to someday overtake him, except solely in the chase for championships. Everyone will forever try to make James take that bait, but these are different times for a star, and he can blaze a trail his own way.
Finally, there’s James floating through the most rarefied of air, suspended above the fray, unwilling to let himself get dragged down into the clown shows.
Can you imagine LeBron … losing the dunk contest? What if he lost to some benchwarmer like Jeremy Evans? If you’re making a table with pluses and minuses, LeBron has very little to gain here. LeBron in a dunk-off with some non-entity like Gerald Green is not going to be anything like Jordan-Dominique. Nobody will walk away from LeBron vs. Terrence Ross thinking, “wow, that was one for the ages!” Jordan-Nique involved two of the Top 15 players in the NBA having a dunk-off. LeBron vs. Russell Westbrook? Now you’re talking.
I’d love to see LeBron do it, but if I’m in his corner giving him advice, the dunk contest is a definite pass.