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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Slam-Dunk Contest Had Become Stale

Associated Press

The NBA’s slam-dunk contest deserved to be canceled, some of the sport’s greatest showmen said. It’d gotten stale.

The NBA replaced the competition - once the highlight of All-Star Saturday - with an event it calls “2ball,” a shooting competition teaming one NBA and one WNBA player from the same city.

The art of dunking, said Hall-of-Famer George Gervin, has slipped since Julius Erving put on a historical performance to win the first competition, held in 1976 at the American Basketball Association’s All-Star game in Denver.

“He’s jumping from the free-throw line, his Afro is going back and he’s got the ball straight up,” Gervin said. “Now that’s something to see.”

NBA fans haven’t had much to watch during the competition for the past few years, said Gervin, a nine-time NBA All-Star who earned the nickname “Iceman” for his ability to perform under pressure.

“We’re seeing a lot of the same things,” he said. “You get tired of looking at it.”

Recently the NBA’s biggest stars have shunned the competition, leaving lesser-known players to rely on gimmicks such as jumping over chairs to win acclaim and the top prize of $20,000.

“When you’re talking about slam-dunk contests, you want to see the top guys,” said David Thompson, who along with Gervin and Erving was one of the original slam-dunk competitors. “The last few years, a lot of the top dunkers haven’t participated and it’s gotten a little stale. There’s nothing new out there.”

At least one current All-Star disagrees, calling the cancellation of the event a “misjustice.”

“I’m really disappointed,” said Vin Baker of the Seattle SuperSonics. “It was one of the events that fans looked forward to.”

On the courts

Elden Campbell scored eight of his 18 points in the final 6:55 Friday night, leading the visiting Los Angeles Lakers to a 98-96 victory over Atlanta that snapped the Hawks’ four-game winning streak. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 19 points.

At Cleveland, Patrick Ewing had 22 points and 10 rebounds as the New York Knicks snapped a six-game road losing streak with a 104-77 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

At Indianapolis, the Indiana Pacers survived a 19-point fourth-quarter outburst and 33 points overall by Jerry Stackhouse in his Detroit debut as they won their fifth straight, 98-90 over the Pistons.

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