The Top 5 NBA Dunk Contests of All Time

Of all the All-Star games in professional sports, the NBA All-Star weekend generally gets it right in ways that the others just don’t. Say what you will about the game itself (they’re working on it), but the skills competition usually features some of the best handles in the game, the three-point contest is always the right combination of incredibly impressive and somehow incredibly frustrating, and the slam dunk contest does more than enough by simply answering the question that every hardcore NBA lover and bandwagon Warriors fan has asked themselves at some point: what if we just let these freakishly athletic dudes do whatever they want?
Since being added in 1984, the slam dunk contest has been a must-see, legacy-defining event. But which dunk contest was the best of all time?

5. 1985: Jordan Meets Wilkins

In just its second year as part of the All-Star weekend, the 1985 Slam Dunk Contest was perhaps the most star-studded contest ever. Featuring the likes of rookie Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Julius “Dr. J” Irving, Clyde Drexler, and returning winner Larry Nance Sr., among others, the 1985 contest was stacked to the point of absurdity. While it doesn’t hold all the legacy appeal of later dunking duels between Jordan and Wilkins or Wilkins and Spud Webb, 1985 helped gain momentum for the NBA’s 80s revival and set the stage for some of the great athletic rivalries of its time. Wilkins would take this first duel with Jordan, leaning on a consistent and powerful technique that Jordan’s youthful nonchalance couldn’t quite combat.

4. 2011: Blake Jumps the Car

By 2011, Slam Dunk contests in the NBA had become a bit predictable, with fans clamoring more for engaging tricks as fewer true superstars were participating than ever. While 21st century stars such as Vince Carter and Dwight Howard had had career-defining moments in the dunk contest, the competition had grown into something of an opportunity for lesser-known names to become more widely known if they applied enough creativity to their already freakish genetic gifts. Enter Javale McGee, Serge Ibaka, and pre-awesome Demar DeRozan, who all had pretty damn good contests. DeRozan was smooth, taking self alley-oops and sideline passes through his legs on the first, while McGee really went off, dunking two balls in two baskets on the same jump before dunking three balls simultaneously on an alley-oop. A lot of people don’t remember all that, though, because 2011 was also the year that Blake Griffin dunked over a car. Was it the most impressive dunk of all time? No, not really. Is it still really hard to do? Yeah, it is. Did Blake look insane doing it? Yeah, he did. Did he win? Yeah. He did.

3. 1988: Jordan’s Revenge

1988’s Slam Dunk Contest was more or less an answer to everything that had happened since the 1985 contest. After Wilkins defeated Jordan in ’85, Wilkins would lose to 5’7″ teammate Spud Webb in a Jordan-less ’86 contest. Jordan would return to win in 1987, setting up one of the all-time great moments in NBA history. By 1988, Jordan was an ascendant force in the NBA, an offensive and defensive force who had already set the playoff scoring record and arguably been snubbed for an MVP. With the competition set in his home court in Chicago, and with multiple Chicago natives and fellow athletic icons set to judge, Jordan needed a perfect score of 50 to defeat Wilkins in the final round of the dizzying contest. While Wilkins had dominated the backboards with powerful slam after powerful slam, it was Jordan who would pull out the perfect score on his final dunk, a free-throw line jam in which he appeared to nearly walk on the air itself.

2. 2008: Dwight Takes Flight

2008 was a no-fluff, no-filler dunk contest with proven ballers, exciting tricks, and some straight-up phenomenal branding on the part of Dwight Howard and his Superman costume. It’s hard to remember now, but this was prime Dwight Howard, when he was a risk to go 20-20 any night and his smile seemed as wide as his wingspan. While the Superman schtick was a bit much for some people, Howard used this contest to assert himself as a household name as the NBA fought to develop it’s next family friendly, Shaq-esque big man. Returning winner Gerald Green had long been known as one of the game’s best dunkers, and he delivered again in 2008 with an absurd dunk in which he blew out a birthday candle that was sitting above the rim. Other uber-athletic players such as Rudy Gay and Jomario Moon delivered as well, but nobody was a match for Howard and his free-throw line flight. To be frank, though: the cape definitely helped.

1. 2000: Two Raptors Wreak Havoc

Following a lockout in 1998-1999 and a subsequent dunk contest hiatus, 2000 was seen as an opportunity to get both viewers and players reinvested in the competition. Enter two cousins and two teammates for the Toronto Raptors: Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. Carter and McGrady were 23 and 20 respectively, and yet the show they put on was enough to make most people forget that other well-known scorers such as Jerry Stackhouse and Steve Francis were even in the building. Between the in-air circus put on by a high-flying McGrady and the logic-defying gall of Carter to pull out reverse 360’s and eventually plunge his whole arm through the hoop in one of the most iconic, winning moments the contest has ever seen, the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest helped expose the high-flying competition for what it had become and, more importantly, what it could and would be.


University Of Arizona Cheerleader Tossed Out Of Game For Talking Trash
University Of Arizona Cheerleader Tossed Out Of Game For Talking Trash
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