Starting Lineups: Steve Francis, The Forgotten NBA Slam Dunk Contestant

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

6 Replies to “Starting Lineups: Steve Francis, The Forgotten NBA Slam Dunk Contestant”

  1. That had to be the best dunk contest ever. Like you said, pretty much any other year Franchise easily walks away with the crown. I know Vince put on an otherworldly show that night, but it’s a shame Stevie’s performance doesn’t get talked about more often.

  2. Ol’ Steve just caught a tough break in that dunk contest. Vince was just INSANE. Now that I think about it, that was a really good dunk contest. All of the contestants did well. They were just overshadowed by Vince.

  3. It’s a damn shame what happened to Stevie Francis smh.

    With that said I was a fan of damn near everybody in that dunk contest, even my man Ricky “I’ll show Lebron everything there is to know about this game” Davis. All of them showed out that year.

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