Yesterday, many an NBA fan got his or her panties all in a bunch following video released of LeBron James messing around after practice and throwing down some nice dunks.
The subsequent conversations — including between our very on Eduardo Maisonet and Kenny Masenda — reopened the debate on whether or not LeBron should compete in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
Personally, I couldn't care less whether LeBron ever enters the competition or not — I think it'd be cool if he did and I'd definitely watch, but it doesn't bother me that he chooses not to. However, this reopened debate, with names such as Dominique Wilkins and Vince Carter invoked, got me thinking about the most overlooked Slam Dunk Contest participant perhaps ever.
I'm speaking, of course, about Steve Francis. Now, it's easy to overlook Stevie Franchise when the topic of the Dunk Content arises because he never actually won one. But, if you all recall, Francis put on quite a show himself on the same night Vince Carter was tantalizing the world with an iconic performance.
Almost any other year, Francis would have walked away with the Dunk Contest crown easily. Unfortunately for him, he was up against arguably the greatest individual performance this exhibition has ever seen.
Two years later, I got to witness Francis compete in person, with All-Star Weekend taking place in Philadelphia. I was hyped, thinking he'd get his crown after a year's hiatus with no Carter to take his spotlight. Instead, the NBA screwed the participants, especially Francis, by introducing the "dunk wheel."
The dunker had to spin the wheel on one of his attempts and replicate whatever dunk from the past the wheel landed on. Francis landed on a dunk he couldn't actually do because he couldn't palm a basketball, and he was never able to get his bearings.
On that night, Jason Richardson took home the first of his back-to-back Slam Dunk titles, with Francis once again left as second fiddle.
And that's a shame, because Steve Francis was an incredible dunker, one who certainly had the hops and creativity to win one of these contests.
And now, Steve Francis looks like this:
I just can't. Let's get to the links …
McGrady simply loves baseball - ESPN
The Dropout - Steven Lebron
In Curling World - The Classical
Why It Took 90 Years For Women's Ski Jumping To Make The Olympics - Deadspin
Tug still making difference, 10 years after death - Philly.com
The Beautiful Infographics Of Ted Williams's The Science Of Hitting - Regressing
Schayes: Are NBA Players Getting Played Again in Search for New Union Chief? - Basketball News
The NBA Swap Meet - Grantland
Westminster dog rankings, 2014: Another tough year for Spaniels - SBNation
10 Forgotten Secrets of Great Movie-making From The 80s - io9
Before Coming Out, a Hard Time Coming Up - The New York Times
The Durant-LeBron Arms Race Is Real—And Statistically Unprecedented - Regressing
Reverend Paul Revere, aka Joe Boland, is a sports blogger out of Philadelphia whose life revolves around sports 365 and a quarter days per year. Keep up with Rev at his own personal blog, The House That Glanville Built and on Twitter.