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The calls for Miami Heat forward LeBron James to compete in the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend reached a fever pitch on Friday night when NBA Hall of Famer and media personality Magic Johnson offered up a $1 million prize to next year's contest. Johnson did so just to entice James to make an appearance next season.
On Sunday, James said he has not even given the offer much thought. "Right now, I don't know," he told the Sun-Sentinel after the Heat beat the New York Knicks 99-93 on Sunday. "It doesn't really stand anywhere. Right now, I'm so focused on what we're doing as a team."
On Friday night, Johnson said on ESPN's NBA pregame show he will put up $1 million if James finally enters the marquee event of All-Star Saturday night.
"Please LeBron, get in the dunk contest," he said. "I'm going to put up a million dollars. A million dollars to LeBron. Please get in the dunk contest. I go every year. I want to see you out there. A million to the winner."
During Sunday's ABC telecast, Johnson said of James, "What I would like him to do is own NBA All-Star weekend, like [Michael] Jordan did."
James has come under increased scrutiny after a number of dunks he made in pregame warmups at the American Airlines Arena went viral on YouTube. The Heat routinely turn the layup line into a dunk contest of sorts, and James has been putting on a show as of late.
James has never appeared in the Slam Dunk Contest, though his latest videos suggest he'd have a pretty good chance at winning one if he did enter.
On Sunday, he said the next Dunk Contest is simply too far away to even think about it while the Heat tune up for the playoffs. "Shoot, All-Star weekend is how far away?" he said Sunday. The next All-Star Weekend is in February 2014.
"I'm really not thinking about right now. It was entertaining to hear him say that, though." Johnson's proposed prize would be a considerable bonus for the dunk champion. Normally, the champion takes home a $100,000 prize, with the runner-up earning $50,000.
With their win over the Knicks on Sunday, the Heat improved to 43-14, best in the Eastern Conference with a 7.5-game advantage over New York in the conference standings. If the Heat keep rolling over opponents (having won 14 games in a row), there will be little else to talk about other than his dunking abilities, meaning we likely have not heard the last of this offer.