Last season’s NBA dunk contest was won by New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin, but instead of defending his title, his teammate Jericho Sims will be stepping up to see if the title can stay in New York.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Sims will be replacing Portland Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe after he decided to withdraw from the contest.
“New York Knicks center Jericho Sims has committed to participate in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend, sources tell The Athletic and Stadium,” he reported. “Sims has emerged as a rotational big man for the Knicks this season.”
While the night of February 7 was all about Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James breaking the all-time points record in the league, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson found some time to shower some praise on the young center.
“OKAY JERICHO,” he said in all caps on Twitter, indicating his excitement with Sims entering the contest.
Other players around the league have wanted Sims to compete in the contest, so this is good news for a lot of people.
Ja Morant Has Called for Jericho Sims
Back in early January when the news of who would be competing in the dunk contest was coming out, Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant asked if the Knicks center could compete.
“Can we get Jericho Sims in there with [Kenyon Martin Jr.] & [Shaedon] Sharpe?” Morant asked.
Fast forward a month later and that’s indeed the case. Of course, it did come at the expense of Sharpe, but Knicks fans won’t mind all too much about that.
This does seemingly confirm Toppin will not be returning to defend his title, despite being healthy now.
Morant is a name that many fans would’ve liked to see suit up for the dunk contest, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen any time soon.
Ever since his failed dunk attempt on Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, Morant has become known for his posters, whether he ultimately scores the points or not. Morant would be one of the most high-profile stars to appear in the contest in several years, and he would definitely help breathe some excitement into it again.
Dunk Contest Rework?
The dunk contest has started to lose its allure in recent years, and even with Toppin pulling off a move never before seen just a year ago, it didn’t really do a whole lot to shift the public perception of the event.
Gone are the days of Blake Griffin jumping over a car or Dwight Howard donning the Superman cape, and players have found it difficult to recapture that magic. After Toppin won last year, he was asked about whether the dunk contest and the three-point contest should switch spots.
Sims has shown he can be high flyer in regular game action, but a totally different mindset has to be brought to a dunk contest. Jumping higher than anybody on the floor isn’t something he’ll have the ability to do in the dunk contest because he’s competing against a bunch of players that are capable of doing the same. Knicks fans will see what he has up his sleeve on Febuary 18.