Zion Williamson offers to help save the Slam Dunk contest, but with a catch

While he's leading the New Orleans Pelicans as a playoff threat, Zion Williamson proposed what it would take to lead the rebirth of the Dunk Contest

Sacramento Kings v New Orleans Pelicans
Sacramento Kings v New Orleans Pelicans / Sean Gardner/GettyImages

Coming off the heels of a 41-point win, there's usually room to be lighthearted with the questions in the post game presser. Zion Williamson was in this spot tonight after dropping 16 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in a 139-98 pummeling over the Toronto Raptors. In the midst of a stellar campaign where he's done everything that's been asked of him, getting in the best shape of his career and fitting in well with CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram, there's little room for Williamson to elevate himself further... or is there?

While we're a couple of weeks distanced from it now, it's tough to forget about the sad state that the NBA Dunk Contest is in. Once the most viral event of the entire weekend, including the game, the Dunk Contest has turned into an afterthought, losing ratings, relevancy, and only followed by hardcore fans for the hope that one year things will change. It wasn't this year, but there's always next year! And, while we always cope by saying that, tonight might have sparked renewed hope for that plea.

Because, after the aforementioned blowout victory by New Orleans in Toronto, Williamson was asked about the prospect of participating in a Dunk Contest in the future, and he had this to say:

"I gotta do my part and make the All-Star game. If I'm in the All-Star game, Ill do the dunk contest," said Williamson.

Zion Williamson vows to participate in Slam Dunk Contest in future, but only if named to All-Star Game

Zion isn't the first person to say this, and it isn't the craziest, most original thought ever. Having said that, it's rooted in logic: players of that caliber don't need to participate in the Dunk Contest for exposure nowadays, because of how large social media is. And, if they're going to sacrifice the luxury of taking a break from basketball and going on a short vacation for being in the Dunk Contest, why would they do it for just the Dunk Contest? If they're in the main course of the weekend, the All-Star Game, then by already being in the host city they participate on Saturday.

Aaron Gordon, who is seen by many as the man that was robbed from winning the 2016 and 2020 Dunk Contests, ultimately won by Zach LaVine and Derrick Jones Jr., respectively, said in 2023 that he would only be back in the contest if he made the All-Star team. While it may be more complicated for Gordon, a role player who isn't tasked with scoring on the defending champion Denver Nuggets, it's more of a matter of when, not if, Williamson is selected as an All-Star. Though, in the Western Conference it might be tricky if someone like Domantas Sabonis didn't make it with how good he played and where the Sacramento Kings were in the standings when voting closed. However, Williamson might make it if he stays healthy and keeps playing at the level he's shown he's capable of.

His appearance in the competition might represent the continuation of the movement of star players being in the main event of All-Star Saturday Night. Jaylen Brown was in it this year, and though he didn't have a great performance, it was still good to see someone of his caliber, a multi-time All-Star, be in the Dunk Contest. Williamson's presence, and performance, might continue motivating others close to his level of play to follow. These players might need that push.

Anthony Edwards, who's been in the All-Star Game the past two seasons and has put together an noteworthy highlight reel of in-game dunks, has repeatedly stated he won't do the Dunk Contest. Ja Morant, another impressive young high-flyer, has said in the past that it would take financial incentives (though the specifics change every time he's asked) to get him involved in the competition. The case of the latter is complicated because Morant underwent season-ending right shoulder surgery in January this year, so maybe he wouldn't want to risk it by being in the 2025 Dunk Contest. But, in the case of the former, if Zion is included and another star tags along, things could change.

The elements are there for Williamson to lead the rebirth of the NBA Dunk Contest. He's done his part and now, like it's been with his Pelicans, he could led a collective effort with fellow All-Star caliber players to form a juggernaut

Next. 2024 NBA Mock Draft: March Madness arrives, as does Kentucky's backcourt. 2024 NBA Mock Draft: March Madness arrives, as does Kentucky's backcourt. dark