The NBA's All-Star Weekend dunk contest is not the marquee event that it once was, but it still provides enough joy to justify its existence. In part, that's because a few players have become dependable participants even when the superstar talents that drive widespread interest have decided to sit out. Among this group, the most successful dunker has been journeyman wing Gerald Green, one of the best leapers in history.
Since entering the league in 2005, Green has bounced around the NBA, D-League, and overseas club teams. However, he also won the 2007 dunk contest, finished second in 2008, and participated in 2013. Despite not being a raging success in on-court competition, Green has established himself as a player simply because he's such a good dunker.
It appears Green, now a member of the Phoenix Suns, is done with that aspect of his career. In an interview with Greg Esposito of Suns.com, he made his preference known:
“I hate talking about the dunk contest.”
“I’m just so sick of the dunk contest. I’m done with that. That point of my life I’m over with. Last year I tried to do a dunk no one has ever seen before. I wasn’t successful in it. That was the end of that book. I close the book, threw it in the treasure (chest), locked the key, threw it in the ocean and will never see it again.”
“I’ll never be in a dunk contest again. I don’t ever want to be a part of it.”
This is a strong statement but also a sensible one. At this point in basketball history, there are very few dunks that can qualify as legitimately new or unseen. Green tried one, failed, and now doesn't know where to go from there. It seems like he's retiring from the contest because he's accomplished all he can.
We should remember, though, that what Green gave us was more than enough. In 2008, he pulled off "The Birthday Cake," still my favorite moment in dunk contest history by a considerable margin. If you forget it, here is the video, in which Green, then a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, had teammate Rashad McCants put a cupcake on the top of the rim and proceeded to blow out its candle in the midst of his dunk.
Please note that it was no one's birthday, that McCants appeared to be auditioning for some kind of zany sidekick role in a sitcom, and that Green's dunk was fairly amazing even apart from the delightful antics. What more could we ask for, both in this moment and from the man who provided it?
Godspeed, Gerald Green. You are on the side of the good guys.
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