Numbing down basketball trick shots

Have you heard? Vince Carter hit an 86-foot shot sitting down at practice earlier this week.


And just this NBA season alone at practice, LeBron James threw a football the length of the court into the hoop. He's thrown down this silly off-the-wall dunk. Monta Ellis has tossed in several incredible shots that have been spread all over the Web. Chris Paul has thrown one off the ceiling. Andre Iguodala has thrown one off the wall.

Collegiately, Kevin Koble of Northwestern has dropped a bomb.

A, um, dude from the troupe "Dude Perfect" hit a shot from the third deck of Kyle Field back in September.

A guy that goes by the name B. Manley got popular over the summer for some insane shots.

And of course, there are countless kids in suburbia that spend whole summer afternoons trying out the over-the-house-one-bounce-on-the-driveway-into-the-hoop shots that are then uploaded onto YouTube for the masses.

With the explosion of video on the Web the past few years, the end-of-practice fooling around we'd only be privy to if we were there in person or happened to have the local news on at the right time has now entered into our Web browsing, blog reading, social-media sharing and e-mailing.

There isn't anything wrong with this; if anything, it's peeled back the curtains and let fans in on stuff they'd usually miss. That's a good thing. And amateurs have taken it outside the traditional basketball court setting and made it something else.

But this easy access also takes away that special factor. The more you see of something, the less effect it has on you. These kinds of shots have almost become the norm, and in some sense, it's desensitized us to the wow factor of them all.

The proliferation of trick shots and dunks online have also had a negative effect on the NBA's dunk and H-O-R-S-E contests.

The H-O-R-S-E contest was broadcast live during All-Star Weekend earlier this month, and with so many misses on attempts from Omri Casspi, Kevin Durant and Rajon Rondo, it was hard to stick with it for more than a couple of minutes.

It was boring.

In fact, there were so many first-attempt misses, Rondo and Durant only had H-O by the time the broadcast time was near up, so because of the time restriction, they traded off 3s at the top of the key until Rondo missed three times, making Durant the repeat champ.

But online? We don't see the numerous misses and failures; we get the good stuff right away. There is no buildup -- only the climax. Most online video is short. It's edited for content. Get us in and out, and then it's on to the next one.

There's just no way to compete with that in a live setting.

The dunk contest this year also lacked oomph. Now, some of this had to do with the competitors: Gerald Wallace was an unlikely candidate for the competition and dunked as such; Shannon Brown seemed scared to mess up; for all his talk, DeMar DeRozan wasn't that impressive; Nate Robinson participated for the third time in as many years … what else could the guy do?

And Robinson's dilemma extends to the dunk contest as a whole now: Where is the next level, and who's going to break through and do something we've never seen?

If James ever decides to enter a contest, that would help. Dwight Howard's and Robinson's props and costumes have helped push it some as well in recent years.

But Web video has also raised expectations. This year, the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown was also on display at All-Star Weekend, and pitted four of the best amateur dunkers in the country against each other. And how did these four make it to the finals? By fans viewing the top 10 semifinalists' highlight reels online, and then voting for whom they liked the best.

Take a gander at the top four dunks here from the nationwide tour -- they're better than anything the pros threw down Saturday night at All-Star Weekend. By a long shot.

And the winner of the contest? Taurian Fontenette, aka "Air Up There," a guy who's accomplished a 720 dunk, which has been viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube.

No NBA star has ever busted out something like that in the dunk contest.

The immediacy and accessibility the Web offers is a fantastic thing. It's brought the impossible to our fingertips time and again.

But in some cases, that power it wields has also been a detriment to patience, expectations and excitement.

And it's a genie that's not going back in the bottle any time soon.

Ryan Corazza is a freelance writer and Web designer based in Chicago.