Jaylen Brown Could Assist NBA At All-Star Weekend In Huge Way

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Jaylen Brown will represent the Boston Celtics for the third time in the 2024 NBA All-Star Game, but the 27-year-old could also play a critical factor in lending the league a huge helping hand.

On Monday night, The Atheltic’s Shams Charania reported Brown has been “seriously considering” participating in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, which he’s never done before — a trend for most stars. Last year, it was then-Philadelphia G-League guard Mac McClung who saved what would’ve otherwise been yet another swing-and-miss by the league at reviving a once-must-watch competition before the East and Western Conference squared off.

Yet, those days presumably are left in the past. Stars like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and even prime Derrick Rose, who are all well-known for their high-flying athleticism, never stepped foot on the brightest stage. It’s become normal to stigmatize the dunk contest as nothing more than the competition that’s far too beneath stars who would rather A) chase a 50-point bomb in the zero-defended East-West battle or B) hope for a hot-shooting day and lose to Stephen Curry in the 3-point contest — Brown and teammate Jayson Tatum both suffered that fate in 2021.

This go-around, Brown can choose to enter a contest that better suits his speedy, athletic, slash-to-the-basket, game that’s already led to a handful of posters dished out to opponents so far. However, in doing so, Brown could also help revive the competition itself, and it might not take much either.

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If Brown does elect to participate, shows out, and brings home the hardware to Boston, perhaps other youngsters across the league will be driven to step up next year. At this point, there’s zero chance the James, and Kevin Durant class of all-time greats will risk losing and getting chastised on social media — no that that’s an understandable reason to decline.

Brown comes from a different generation that’ll soon be handed the torch once the James and Durants of the league have retired. With that responsibility of leading the next generation comes the power and influence of being able to change the narrative of things such as the dunk contest. It’s been 36 years since Michael Jordan defeated Dominique Wilkins to win a second straight dunk contest title, yet when considering the current state of how the competition is viewed by players, it seems as though that was a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? In fact, the last time an actual All-Star participated in the dunk contest was in 2017.

Instead of valuing the inside game, teams have relied on replicating the AAU style of basketball in getting up as many outside shots as possible, which Brown is plenty familiar with. Now it’s become an annual tradition for the league’s best shooters to battle it out from beyond the arc while anyone willing to say yes to the dunk contest gets the stamp of approval.

There will never be another circumstance that allows Jordan and McClung to be on the same list.

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This season, Brown has totaled 58 dunks, which is 26th among all NBA players and just one shy of Celtics teammate Kristaps Porzingis. It’s become a staple to Brown’s game to challenge any and everybody at the rim, and most times, it doesn’t end well for the opposing defender.

The hype attached to Brown heading into the dunk contest would be at a level that the NBA hasn’t seen since Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon went toe-to-toe, using the free-throw line and drone-spinning mascots to lure eyes. Brown would also become the first since Gerald Green (2007 winner) to represent the Celtics, and the ongoing victims list, which includes three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, just keeps on growing.

Voted by players across the league as the Vice President of the NBPA, it’s clear Brown’s respected by peers and has an outspoken voice that’s capable of captivating ears beyond those on an NBA court. Back in November, Brown spoke favorably about the inaugural In-Season Tournament, which aimed to capture a boost in viewership during a “mundane” portion of the campaign. Knowing that viewership is a two-way beneficial street for players and the league, Brown has the chance to take yet another initiative that’ll ultimately further promote the sport and one of its former cherished annual events.

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As long as the NBA doesn’t feed viewers anything reminiscent of the failed team format in 2014, it’ll be a win for all those watching.

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