Any time the NBA has handed the wheel over to the fans, it’s been a car wreck.
Blind basketball fanatics have notoriously voted names like Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson into NBA All-Star Game starting lineups, even when those stars had long faded.
The Association is making another huge mistake with its annual Slam Dunk Contest, letting fans dictate the entire outcome of All-Star Saturday Night’s main event on Feb. 25. Fans will decide the winner through online voting, Twitter and text-in ballots.
To make matters worse, ESPN
is reporting that overnight sensation Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks will be involved in the dunk contest – but not as a competitor. Lin will be assisting teammate Iman Shumpert with alley-oop tosses, giving the Knicks rookie an unfair edge when it comes to fan voting.
The Lin-crazed Chinese and Taiwanese fan bases will flood the online voting with nods to Shumpert, just because of the tie-in with Lin. All Shumpert needs to do is finish his dunks and somehow have Lin involved.
Some sportsbooks may be hesitant to release odds for this year’s dunk contest and its new judging system. However, others are following the same course as previous All-Star Weekends, and will book the slam dunk contest, but with one-sided odds reflecting the new voting rules and Lin’s popularity.
Some offshore books have already opened odds for the dunk contest,
setting Shumpert at +150 to win the dunk contest. Rounding out the field is Indiana's Paul George (+200), Minnesota's Derrick Williams (+300), and Houston's Chase Budinger (+500).
However, other oddsmakers disagree with the early odds, believing Shumpert should open in the -500 to -600 range for the dunk contest.
“With Lin’s involvement, this contest is Shumpert’s to lose,” says Greg Sindall, line manager for SportsInteraction.com
, which plans on booking the dunk contest. “Heck, he could probably do three layups and win.”
“Lin is front-page news every day right now and the timing of the dunk contest couldn’t be better for Shumpert in that regard. So many people are going to vote for him simply because of Lin’s involvement.”
Michael Pierce, an oddsmaker for Sportsbook.com
says they plan on setting odds on the event like past years, but noted that there will be a high price tag on Shumpert.
“Shumpert is a shoe-in,” says Pierce. “He will get every vote from China.”
“Stern’s boys didn’t think this through correctly.”
Basketball fans witnessed the power of the Asian fan vote during Yao Ming’s nine seasons in the NBA. Every year, the Houston Rockets center blew away the rest of the field in All-Star votes, even in 2010-11 when he was voted a starter without playing a single game that season. Lin's Chinese and Taiwanese background has created similar buzz and will no doubt draw fan votes for his Knicks teammate.
It looks like the only way someone other than Shumpert can win is if
Budinger gets his old teammate Yao involved and jumps over the 7-foot-5
The overall format for the dunk contest has also changed, with just one round and each competitor getting three dunks. Fan voting will open after each player completes one dunk.
Anyone looking to bet the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest in Las Vegas will be out of luck. Due to the dunk contest being voted on, and popularity playing a major role in the outcome, Nevada books are not allowed to book the event. However, most shops will post odds for the other All-Star Saturday Night events, like the skills and 3-point shootout.
All-Star Saturday Night starts at 8 p.m. ET at the Amway Center in Orlando.