The line in the sand has been drawn. The gauntlet has been dropped. The buck stops here. The early bird gets the worm.
You’re welcome to whatever dorky metaphor you’d like (except that last one, it doesn’t apply here at all), because Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Magic Johnson is stepping up to the plate for NBA fans everywhere.
So what in the world is calling for Magic to swoop in with an “S” on his chest?
It’s simply LeBron James’ unwillingness to join the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, which has disappointed fans around the globe since he first declined the invitation as a wide-eyed, 19-year-old Cleveland Cavaliers rookie in 2004.
Being the freak of athletic nature that he is, not to mention one of the greatest to ever step on the hardwood, hoops heads have salivated over what would figure to be one of the most incredible dunking performances ever, in an event with ultra-rich history.
If only James would accept the invite.
After a ho-hum dunk contest in Houston that was eventually won by the Toronto Raptors’ Terrance Ross, NBA pundits and fans alike voiced their displeasure and their message was clear: It’s time for the game’s stars to return to what was once an awe-inspiring competition among the League’s elite.
That means you, LeBron.
After all, every other NBA dunking great has participated when called upon. Kobe Bryant, Dr. Julius Erving and Dominque Wilkins. Even the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan, wasn’t beneath the NBA’s once premiere event, participating twice (winning both times, of course) in 1987 and 1988 respectively.
If the legends of the game can do it, what excludes James?
(Waiting while you hit the replay button a few times…)
So why won’t he do it?
“If I decided to do it then I would have to win,” James told ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst in 2012. “Otherwise it would be a waste of my Saturday night.”
“Why don’t you take a poll and see if you think I have more to lose than gain?”
Enter the Magic man.
Sensing a shrinking window of opportunity to witness the 28-year-old James in the Dunk Contest at the peak of his athleticism, Johnson offered up some serious coin to entice the King.
“Please, LeBron, get in the dunk contest. I’m going to put up a million dollars,” Johnson said on ESPN’s Kia NBA Countdown. “A million dollars from Magic to LeBron. Please get in the dunk contest. I go every year. I want to see you out there. A million to the winner.”
“LeBron James, Blake Griffin both have to be in it,” Rose added on the show, and Johnson agreed. “All-Star-caliber players helping build the league during All-Star weekend.”
So will Magic’s straight cash be enough to get James to end his dunking ban?
No word yet, but things definitely got more interesting, because money, and especially that kind of money, talks loud and clear.
Adam Jun covers the Chicago Bulls for Skyword, Inc. a search-driven media website