Once again trying to spice up a competition that’s been known to lack for creativity, enthusiasm and star power in recent years, the NBA has reformatted Saturday’s Slam Dunk Contest from New Orleans Arena.
Originally, a free-for-all every other year, this time around the six participants will represent their respective conferences with a few new rules.
It will be East versus West for the first time in Dunk Contest history, with Washington’s John Wall, the Raptors Terrence Ross and Indiana’s Paul George for the right coast and Sacramento’s Ben McLemore, Golden State’s Harrison Barnes and Trail Blazer Damian Lillard representing the left.
According to the NBA, Saturday will be the first time in 26 years that three All-Stars will participate in Dunk Contest. George was named to his second straight All-Star team, while Wall and Lillard are first-timers.
This year the two-round contest begins with the Freestyle Round, where players will have 90 seconds to dunk-off for the judges for the right to choose whether to go first or second in the next stage.
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From there, the second and final round will be head-to-head match-ups, and every player to lose a match-up will be then eliminated. The first team to win a head-to-head three times wins the competition.
Fans will then get to vote for the “Dunker of the Night” via SMS, Twitter, NBA.com, or the NBA GameTime app. In previous incarnations fans had chosen the overall champion after the contest had been whittled down to two dunkers.
TNT’s show begins at 8:30 p.m. EST and is supposed to run about three hours.
After the Skills Competition and Three-Point Shootout, the dunk contest should start between 10:30 to 10:45 p.m.