The Dunk Contest Format Is Completely Different This Year

If the NBA dunk contest has disappointed you in recent years, you might consider tuning into this year's edition. The NBA has instituted a new set of rules for the contest, and they have the potential to make this year's version much more watchable than the boring, craptastic contests we've seen in years past.

The worst part about the dunk contest has always been the pockets of cringe-inducing dead air that are produced by one dunker trying and failing to pull off the same dunk over and over again. The new rules should eliminate some of that depressing downtime, because the first round is now a "freestyle" round.

It works like this: The six dunkers will be divided into two teams, East and West, and will all participate in the freestyle round simultaneously. Basically, it will be a layup line, with each dunk attempt immediately followed by another one from a different player, and it will go on like this until the timer runs out. Things could get messy if everyone is biffing their attempts left and right, but if the players are able to get a decent pace going and feed off each other's energy, it should be a lot of fun to watch.


Once the freestyle round is over, a winning team will be announced and the battle round will begin. Whichever team won the freestyle round gets to choose who goes first in the next round, and then the three players from each team are paired off for a head-to-head matchup. When a dunker loses one of these battles, he is eliminated from the contest. Once a team wins three battles, the contest is over. Yes, this means that the stakes are not very high in the freestyle round, but the battle round could make for some great theater. I'd personally like to see a team go down 0-2, just to see if its last man standing could pull off three wins in a row.

But yeah, you should try watching the dunk contest this year. It might be cool.