Million-dollar All-Star dunk-off?

Last year LeBron James cast the bait and then reeled us all in. Participate in the Slam Dunk Contest he playfully hinted. Oh really?


Shaquille O'Neal couldn't even entice NBA superstars to dunk for Haiti. Instead, fans at All-Star Saturday's dunk contest at American Airlines Center will be treated to New York Knicks mighty-mite Nate Robinson defending his title against little-known Shannon Brown of the Lakers, Charlotte leaper Gerald Wallace and either Eric Gordon of the Clippers or Toronto rookie DeMar DeRozan.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

"In the dunk contest [in the 1980s] you had Dominique [Wilkins], [Michael] Jordan, you had all them guys," Larry Bird said in a phone interview last week. "Everybody participated whether they wanted to or not."

Now that would be nice.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said today's superstars don't have an obligation to the fans or the game to participate in All-Star extracurriculars (for the record, Cuban believes players owe fans good health for the stretch run). Cuban did, however, have an idea that just might entice the upper crust to give the dunk contest a go. It's just too bad Cuban never followed Shaq's lead and actually floated the idea publicly.

"It’s not like it didn’t cross my mind to do something where it's All-Star picks only, million-dollar, one dunk, charity-of-your-choice, winner take all," Cuban said. "How fun would that be? That’s not to say we still won’t offer it up."

Offer it up. The fans won't mind.