The NBA’s path to an All-Star game in 2020 has been far from smooth. With star players openly criticizing the decision to hold the showcase event, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the league has struggled to drum up enthusiasm for the normally exciting weekend.
With under a week to go until the All-Star break, the NBA is still scrambling to finalize its list of competitors for the annual Dunk Contest. Unfortunately, some of the top targets have already opted out of the event.
According to a report from Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, three more players recently declined invitations to participate in this year’s Dunk Contest.
The league went after rookie sensation Anthony Edwards, who already entered his submission for dunk of the year, but the Minnesota Timberwolves wing decided to pass. He was joined by Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown and Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges, who also declined invitations.
Anthony Edwards, Jaylen Brown and Miles Bridges all declined to participate in the Dunk Contest, sources tell @ChrisBHaynes.
But Zion could provide a necessary jolt if he accepts the invite.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) March 2, 2021
All three players are big losses for the event, which normally is one of the highlights of the All-Star break. At this point, it’s unclear if the Dunk Contest will garner any real appeal at all.
As of right now, the young field consists of Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons, New York Knicks rookie Obi Toppin and Indiana Pacers rookie Cassius Stanley. All three players have plenty of athleticism, but their names don’t exactly leap off the page.
The league still seems to be holding out hope for second-year sensation Zion Williamson, who has yet to announce his decision on the Dunk Contest. Haynes reported the the New Orleans Pelicans All-Star received an invitation, but has yet to make up his mind.
Williamson would definitely create tons of hype for the event if he were to announce his participation. However, after an injury held him out for most of last year, it might be in the best interest of the 20-year-old to sit this one out.
The 2021 NBA All-Star Game will be held in Atlanta on March 7. The Dunk Contest will go on during halftime, with the annual 3-point Contest and Skills Challenge taking place before the game.