10 Gorgeous NBA Dunks to Watch Before the All-Star Break

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Photo Courtesy of Jinx!, licensed through Flickr via Creative Commons

Photo Courtesy of Jinx!, licensed through Flickr via Creative Commons

It’s almost here. The Slam Dunk Contest. Recently derided for a stale format, excessive use of props, and a lack of participation by some of the league’s biggest stars, the 2014 All-Star Weekend in New Orleans will feature a newly revamped competition that should make the event less focused on watching players try to complete the same dunk over, and over, and over again and more on the facts that dunks are awesome. Now, not only have the contestants been divided into Conferences, but the first round is now a simultaneous entry “freestyle” round. After that, it becomes an inter-conference one-on-one matchup. Think of it like a lay-up line, but with dunks and a slam-off.

Dunks are fun. A case could be made that dunks are in that rarefied air of fun that causes any and every spectator — regardless of fandom — to stop what they’re doing, put down whatever is in their hands, and blink hard several times, trying to reason out that they just saw what they think they just saw. Legends have been made on the mere mythology of a dunk; think of Dr. J’s rock-the-baby or his infamous “take-off-at-the-foul-line” slam. It is one of the only moves that is so completely and uniquely basketball, a visual definition of individual grace and power disguised as a universal scoring action.

That is the key to the enduring power of the Dunk Competition. It doesn’t matter how many lame Kia leaps the fans have to put up with, the prospect for “amazing” is always there. With the deepest field of entrants in a long, long time, let’s take a look at some classic dunks, both in-game and from Dunk Contests of yore, as well as the best dunks from each player slated to appear this weekend.

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