The winner of this Saturday’s NBA All-Star dunk contest will be the first in history chosen by the fans–and the fans alone.
While past dunk contests have included input from ex-NBA star judges, voting for the 2012 edition in Orlando will be done entirely by spectators via Twitter, SMS, and the Web.
This should help the NBA avoid a controversy like the one following last year’s dunk contest when the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin defeated the Washington Wizards’ JaVale McGee by leaping over a KIA Optima. While dunk contest decisions are hardly scientific, some accused the NBA of playing favorites with Griffin because of his rising star status and his willingness to transform a dunk into a piece of product placement.
This year’s increased level of fan engagement should also help make up for what some view as a rather lackluster field of competitors. While the days when superstars like Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, and Kobe Bryant would participate in these contests is long gone, there’s usually at least one main attraction in the bunch. (Last year it was was Griffin.)
Instead, lesser-known players like the Utah Jazz’s Jeremy Evans, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Williams, and the Houston Rockets’ Chase Budinger will battle it out for dunk supremacy.
Of course, that’s not to say viewers won’t be treated to some staggering displays of style and physicality. McGee was also relatively unknown when video of him dunking two balls in two hoops at once went viral on YouTube.
The choice to fully democratize the dunk contest is just one way the NBA is turning the All-Star weekend into a social, interactive event. The league has also partnered with Shaker to create a virtual hangout where fans can interact with one another and watch exclusive content all weekend long.
Will you watch the dunk contest this Saturday? If so, you can vote on Twitter by using the hashtag #SpriteSlam. Then be sure to catch up with the Daily Dot after the winner is crowned for our recap of how it all went down.