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Nate Robinson

Yeah, the 2010 Dunk Contest was pretty much a failure, except for Krypto-Nate. However, instead of trying to fix it, I have another suggestion: Get players that actually want to be in the thing. That, alone, would improve upon it, because then, you’d have other dunkers besides Nate Robinson who give a damn about the competition. Look, the dunks DeMar DeRozan put down were nice to look at. Hell, the dunk he threw down, courtesy of Sonny Weems’ pass off the side of the backboard might have been the best technical dunk of the evening.

Unfortunately, DeRozan delivered it with about as much charisma as an insurance adjuster.

However, for as bland as DeRozan was, Shannon Brown and Gerald Wallace were worse. Um, guys, I’m not sure if throwing down dunks that you can and do during normal games, with the same business-like attitude, isn’t going to work. Showmanship is as, if not more, important than the dunk itself. If you need any further convincing, take a look at one of the most memorable “dunks” of the competition: Dwight Howard’s Superman Layup.

While it wasn’t a dunk, per se, Howard’s cape and his “I’m so happy to be here” attitude — not to mention, his mega-watt smile — made the dunk what it was. Simply tossing a standard dunk down, and then returning to the bench with a ho-hum look on your face does not sell the dunk at all. In fact, it does just the opposite.

And that’s where Nate Robinson comes in. Were his dunks that technically difficult if you are an NBA player? No, but his diminutive size helped make them perhaps more than what they were. And then, there’s Nate’s showmanship. Whether it’s changing to his Krypto-Nate uniform or grabbing the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders’ pom-poms while celebrating, Robinson understands he has to sell himself as well as the dunk he’s attempting.

It also helps that his final dunk was the only one of the evening that elicited a verbal response from me.

Here’s to you, Mister Three-time Dunk Contest Winner. Thank you for making an otherwise embarrassing effort somewhat worthwhile. Next year, however, the NBA would do well to find competitors who share Robinson’s spirit.