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VC unsure why stars avoid dunk contest: 'Something I looked forward to'

Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The 1985 NBA Slam Dunk contest featured five All-Stars: Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins, Clyde Drexler, and Larry Nance.

Now, it's rare for one player who's featured in Sunday's game to also throw their hat in the ring for Saturday night's main event. Atlanta Hawks veteran - and dunk contest legend - Vince Carter isn't sure why the league's best players don't want to compete in the Slam Dunk contest anymore.

"I don't think there's a remedy. It's just how they're feeling," Carter told Marc Spears of The Undefeated. "I can't answer that question. I just don't know. That was just something I looked forward to."

The 42-year-old admitted, though, that even he participated in the contest only once to avoid being labeled "the dunk contest guy."

Carter acknowledged that today's circumstances are a lot different than when he participated 19 years ago - alongside players such as Tracy McGrady, Steve Francis, and Jerry Stackhouse - and said social media may put too much pressure on the players.

"Some people may think different, but I just feel it," Carter said. "Me being in the dunk contest at that time, that's not that hard. What people were saying around the world instantly was not a worry. Now, it's instant. The pressures of it tends to get to us. I don't care who you are. It's the reality of it."

Carter was launched into stardom by winning the 2000 Slam Dunk contest as a member of the Toronto Raptors, but he admits he's not particularly interested in watching the current iteration of the event.

"I watch it here and there in pieces," he said. "Outside of social media, my friends text me, 'Did you see that, did you see that?' I remember I watched a little bit of (Zach) LaVine and (Aaron) Gordon (in 2016).

"And I just so happened to walk by a TV to watch Donovan Mitchell's dunk (in 2018). It was funny. I was with my daughter and she says, 'Dad, this guy got your jersey on.' I didn't watch the whole thing. But sitting there just watching it is just tough for me sometimes."

Carter is averaging 6.6 points on 42.5 percent shooting in his 21st NBA season.

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