Well, that was a huge fucking disappointment.
The Slam Dunk Contest format was drastically changed this year in order to somehow make dunks more thrilling, as if they weren't already. It didn't work. There were two rounds, and that was it. It was the most anticlimactic finish to such a popular, simple competition.
Let's explain that new two-round format. The first was a freestyle round, where Team East—John Wall, Terrence Ross, and Paul George—and Team West—Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes, and Ben McLemore—each had a minute and a half to do any dunks they wanted. There was no buildup for any of the dunks, and the crowd recognized that with their minimal reactions. Even when one of the six dunkers threw down an impressive dunk, the crowd wasn't that excited, because they knew, in a few more seconds, there'd be another one that could be better. It was dunk inflation; even the best ones looked routine. (In case you give a shit, Team East won this round.)
The second and final round was the Battle Round. One player each from Teams East and West were paired off in a head-to-head dunk competition. Blame the format, but almost all of these lacked any impressive buildup, drama, or showmanship.
An aside: The judging process for the Battle Round was awful. Maybe it was only because Team East dominated, but poor Julius Erving almost never had an opinion that actually counted. The majority had already ruled for one side before Dr. J had his ruling. The people in charge could have rotated which judge went first so at least everyone had an actual say. Also—and this must have been some sponsorship deal—but picking the winners on tablets was stupid. Just give them two damn posters with "East" and "West."
Wall's dunk over the Wizards' mascot, which (rightfully) earned him the Dunker of the Night, was the only entertaining part of the whole ordeal. But that was one slightly memorable dunk. And here's the most fucked-up part: Team East won the Battle Round 3-0, and the dunks were finished. Some fans texted and tweeted, Wall got his trophy, Nick Cannon said something stupid, and we were done. The three victors didn't face off for a final round, each with his own signature dunk, which would have been the logical next step.
How was this fun to anyone? Paul George sold his dunk in an actual game better than he did tonight. Each contestant had roughly three different dunks. It sucked. The old format wasn't perfect, but it was a hell of a lot better than this. Hey, Blake Griffin's Kia dunk in 2011 was completely manufactured, but we still recognize it. And we haven't forgotten Javale McGee's two-ball, two-hoop dunk, which was his first dunk of the contest that year. Are you going to remember anything but the 2014 contest winner, hell, two years from now?