By Ren Hsieh
You might have heard them push the show on TNT’s Inside the NBA, and not always with the most conviction, but The Dunk King, a sort of mini reality show / dunk contest, will be premiering tonight just after TNT’s broadcast of the NBA’s Western Conference finals.
The show will feature top amateur dunkers from all over the world competing for bragging rights and a $100,000 grand prize. And two of these contestants are Asian. We’re not exactly synonymous with dunking, so obviously, I’m compelled to watch it now.
Sherman Su is a Chinese Canadian who has won some past Sprite Slamdunk Showdowns, and was named by BallisLife.com as the world’s best Asian dunker.
That’s might be because they didn’t know Brandan Matano is Asian. I actually saw Brandon play before he took on dunking as a career, back in 2012, in annual an tournament I run called the Pan Asian American Games. He kind of stole the show:
Brandon, who is Hawaiian-Japanese on his mother’s side, soon joined Team Flight Brothers after a couple of stints playing semi-pro ball. He is pretty much universally accepted in New York Asian American basketball circles to be the best Asian dunker we’ve ever seen after his short time in the Tri-State area.
Judges for The Dunk King include Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and former NBA dunk champion, Brent Barry.
I’m not really a sports reality show / contest guy, stuff like The Contender and The Ultimate Fighter don’t really speak to me, everything just seems too synthetic. But diversity casting got me here, and I’ll be rooting for these guys.
Dunking is one of those weird talents right now; everyone loves a good one, but can it actually be made into a profession? Or will it always be the sideshow stuff of All-Star games and personal YouTube channels?
If nothing else, The Dunk King seems to be trying to legitimize the idea that there is money to be made in dunking.