Lakers News: Rich Paul Responds To Idea That LeBron James Ruined Dunk Contest By Not Participating
LeBron James, Rich Paul, Lakers
Andrew D. Bernstein-NBAE via Getty Images

After the latest Slam Dunk Contest that took place during 2024 All-Star Weekend, there was a lot of discussion about the state of the contest as a whole and how it has fallen off recently. Some even spoke about Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar LeBron James never taking part in the contest during his career, believing that significantly hurt and even ruined it as a whole with some other stars following suit.

Throughout the history of the contest, legends such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant participated in their younger years, as did other All-Stars such as Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins and Vince Carter. In the eyes of some, LeBron should have been the next to take part, but it never happened.

But the idea of blaming James for the downfall of the Dunk Contest does not sit well with his agent Rich Paul. The Klutch Sports CEO recently appeared on a livestream with Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and discussed his belief on why the Dunk Contest isn’t what it used to be and why it’s unfair to put that on LeBron:

“As it pertains to the Dunk Contest, I think that we sit in this space of things have to remain the same, when we live a life of, things evolve, nothing remains the same… Nothing stays the same. I think we have this mentality of ‘Well Mike did it and this person did it so therefore you have to do it.’ Well, not really as well.

“I think that the Dunk Contest was a thing when athleticism was what we fantasized about and it was so glamorized and it was something that was being pushed in front of because the league was evolving… You had these guys that was between 5’10 and 6’7 with this unbelivable athleticism and it was a wow factor to it. Well it may not be a wow factor today. I’m actually more interested in the 3-point contest.”

The game has certainly evolved recently and, especially as Stephen Curry and current back-to-back 3-point champion Damian Lillard have changed the way the game is played. Paul would continue on about the Dunk Contest and even revealed that there were some past years in which LeBron wanted to compete:

“I do wanna focus on how do we move forward because again, it’s only so many dunks you can do as well. So if you wanna pin the Dunk Contest on somebody then there’s other arguments that you have to pull back on because what you’re saying is, this person is so impactful to our game that he can singlehandedly decimate something and that’s a very slippery slope to go down.

“I will say the Dunk Contest has lost its luster for a number of reasons and if you look back in the ’90s, there were several All-Star players that did not do the Dunk Contest… I do know there were several years that LeBron actually wanted to do the Dunk Contest. I think one time he twisted his ankle prior to, so on and so forth. But that’s somebody’s opinion on TV every morning to say whatever they want to say and I have no argument with that. But I also think that we can’t just be stuck on the Dunk Contest. We have to move forward and make it a part of Saturday night, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be THE part of Saturday night. Prime example, the 3-point contest should probably go last. It’s just much more exciting today.”

To put everything on LeBron is simply unfair. While it would have been great to see him compete in the contest back in the mid-to-late 2000s, that is not why the contest has lost its luster overall. As Paul pointed out, the 3-pointer has taken over the game and there simply aren’t many things we haven’t seen as far as dunks go.

With James in his final years with the Lakers, now is the time to appreciate everything he has done for the game, not put blame on him for All-Star festivities no longer living up to the hype.

Lakers’ LeBron James hoping ankle treatment will allow strong finish

LeBron James himself is more focused on the Lakers and getting the team on track and moving up the standings down the stretch of the season. While he sat out the team’s first game back from All-Star Weekend with an ankle issue, it was not expected to be a prolonged absence.

In fact, according to reports, the reason he sat out was to undergo a treatment that James hopes will lead to a strong finish to the season for him and the Lakers.

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