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“LeBron is one of the best dunkers to ever play to not do it, I wish he did it once” - Austin Rivers sounds off on LeBron James never doing the dunk contest

Austin Rivers recognises LeBron James is an all-time great, but wishes he would have done just one more thing
LeBron James

LeBron James

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Austin Rivers believes LeBron James should have competed in the dunk contest at least once in his career, and him not doing so has allowed other great dunkers a pass not to participate.

James went against tradition

James, who just celebrated his 38th birthday, is still rocking the rim in his 20th season; however, Rivers wished "The King" put his name forward during his athletic prime and stayed true to tradition that best high-flyers competed at least one time.

Recently, the 30-year-old joined "The Ringer" podcast "Off Guard" and said it remains the one blemish on James' career.

"Listen i'm a big LeBron fan; everyone knows if you know me I have the highest amount of respect for LeBron James. This is a small stray, not even a stray, this is like he's catching a small dart arrow. LeBron is one of the best dunkers to ever play to not do it, that's all I'm going to say. Every greatest dunker of all time that was in that mix has done it.

I wish, if there was only one thing - again, this is the smallest slight LeBron has done everything you can possibly do in the game of basketball. I wish he would've done that once, and I think him not doing, now you get guys like Ja Morant and some of these other guys who everyone knows should be in the dunk contest don't really want to do it.

I do think LeBron has to hold some weight on this, he was the first guy to not do it, and I feel like everyone wanted him to do it for the longest time. All he needed was one year, he should have done it his second year in the league," he said.

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The jury is out as to why

Many of the league's best dunkers have indeed participated in the dunk contest, and James' absence has been noticed. Some argue that James' decision not to participate has led to a decline in the event's popularity. Rivers suggests that if James had participated in the dunk contest, it would have added to his already impressive legacy and could have encouraged other top players to participate as well.

LeBron is arguably the greatest player ever, and his decision not to participate remains largely a mystery, especially considering he competed in high school. Although it would have been nice to see James participate in the event, it speaks more to maintaining tradition in the association rather than impacting his individual legacy - which he cares far more about.

Rivers has competed against James for over a decade since entering the league in 2012. Austin's first years in the NBA coincided with Miami Heat LeBron, who is still likely the most outstanding individual athlete ever in the NBA. His combination of size, strength, quickness, durability, explosion and sheer power was something to behold on a nightly basis - and sold out stadiums throughout the country.

At this time, James' non-participation in the event drew the most noise, as it made sense to put his hand up and compete before his athletic gifts started to fade away.

The ship has sailed

As mentioned, he can still get up with the best of them, but his raw leaping ability has subsided after two grueling decades.

It seems as though the stars never aligned for the Los Angeles Lakers superstar, despite him verbally committing on multiple occasions in his early years in the league. At this stage of his career, his approach is more tailored towards body and energy conservation than pleasing the crowd with his ferocious arrays to the rim on every possession.

It's safe to say the ship has now sailed for the veteran, and fans are left with the dreaded "what if" when looking back at his career.

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