Julius Erving is one of the most iconic basketball players in the history of the game. "Dr. J", as he has been known by adoring fans for more than five decades is upset that the Slam Dunk Contest has lost its luster over the years. Instead of blaming its lack of popularity on the no-name players who enter the contest every year, the Doctor told ESPN that hairy costumed-clad acrobats are at the center of the controversy.

"The mascots messed it up," Erving told ESPN. "It was great seeing regular human beings, even though they were 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, running and dunking a basketball. When mascots started doing it with all the trampolines and all the crazy stuff and falling on the floor, then it became more like the X Games. The players can't live up to that."

Getty Images.

Mascots dunking off of trampolines is strictly for entertaining crowds during NBA and college basketball games. Unlike Dr. J's comments made to ESPN, the regular NBA Slam Dunk Contest never seemed inadequate or not cool enough for me. As someone old enough to remember Larry Nance winning the first ever NBA Slam Dunk Contest and the classic dunking battles between Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins, its lack of star appeal has killed its popularity in my eyes.

Even before the NBA Dunk Contest, the now defunct ABA held the first ever Dunk Contest at Denver's McNichol's Arena in 1976. Dr. J won the inaugural competition, which featured all of the top dunking superstars from the league.

If you asked most NBA fans who won the last 10 Slam Dunk Contests, few would know some if any names. That is because the league no longer seeks out its stars to participate, and many of the best players in the league do not feel it is worth their time and energy to be part of the dunk contest. If the NBA could find a way to attract its top stars to show off their jamming ability every All Star weekend, then The Slam Dunk Contest would have a chance at returning to prominence.