How YouTube Ruined the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

YouTube ruined the NBA slam dunk contest.

Back in the day - say 1988 - if you told me Michael Jordan dunked from the free throw line, I'd believe you.  In fact, if I missed the news that night, I'd have no choice but to believe you.

But here's the thing - Jordan didn't take off from the free throw line.  He was a good 1/2 step inside it.  Oh, and he never double clutched, as many now believe. So the dunk that launched a thousand marketing executions was not quite what it was reported to be.

And I can't tell you how thankful I am YouTube didn't exist in 1988.  I would rather remember that dunk as it was reported, rather than as it really was [see clip below].


Fast forward 23 years.

"Blake Griffin just dunked over a car!" screamed the Internet a few nights ago.

But here's the thing - he dunked over the hood of a car.  And while a great physical accomplishment, not quite as it was reported.  Very similar to the Jordan situation, except these days, everyone's an analyst - and we all have access to the greatest instant reply machine ever invented ... YouTube.

In the days since Blake's dunk I've watched it probably 10 times, from various angles and speeds.  And I've picked it apart like no dunk I've ever seen.

And I hate that.  It feels like I've ruined a great moment.

Bill Simmons recently had David Stern on his podcast, and they talked about YouTube becoming a great accellerant for the popularity of young NBA talent.  And I agree.  Blake is Blake, in part, because of YouTube. But with that upside, comes the down.  And the down, for me, is a loss of wonderment and imagination. 

I wouldn't go back to the old way.  I'm too addicted to YouTube and too strapped for time to watch a lot of live TV.  But it does make me pause and think.

So yes, for me YouTube ruined the NBA slam dunk contest.  Then again, the silly props and seemingly infinite attempts at each dunk don't help either.

And for what it's worth, this is how the dunk contest should be.  Courtesy of the NBA D League.