NBA Slam Dunk Contest
The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is an annual NBA competition held during the week of the NBA All-Star Game. The Contest was inaugurated by the American Basketball Association at its All-Star Game in 1976 in Denver, just as the Slam Dunk was legalized in the NCAA. It enabled players to showcase their dunking skills and try to out-dunk each other. However, this contest would be short-lived as the ABA merged the following year with the National Basketball Association. Realizing the popularity of slam dunks, the NBA soon created a contest of its own, which made its first appearance in 1984.
The NBA reintroduced the Slam Dunk Contest in 1984 at its birthplace in Denver. This paved the way for one of the most memorable slam dunks in NBA history, as Erving dunked from the free throw line. It would be a teammate who would prevent Wilkins from repeating as champ. His Atlanta Hawks teammate, Spud Webb, made history when he upset Wilkins in the final. Spud Webb became the shortest player ever to win the contest.
The Slam Dunk Contest had always been a big hit with fans but interest in the contest began to wane in the mid 1990s. Initially, it was some of the players who lost interest in competing. Most players cited concerns of injuries and others felt that all the different kinds of dunks had been exhausted. With most of the superstars choosing not to participate, lesser known players began to compete. This led to a watered-down competition. Players would win contests with boring or completely unoriginal dunks. It was during that year's contest that a young Kobe Bryant did a between the legs dunk that made him the winner. The rest of the competition (or lack thereof) had offered little variety to their dunks and this quickly led to fan criticism of it being "boring." The between the leg dunk was first performed by Orlando Woolridge in the 1984 dunk contest. Isaiah Rider revived that particular dunk in the 1994 dunk contest and named it the "East Bay Funk Dunk".
After a two season layoff, the NBA decided to bring the contest back. The initial contest after this was in 2000. It featured a great showdown between the eventual winner Vince Carter, his cousin Tracy McGrady, and Steve Francis. However, the next four contests did not feature superstars and talks again began that maybe the contest should be eliminated. The main argument was that players could not really come up with any more dunks that people had never seen before, despite arguably innovative efforts by Jason Richardson in 2003 and 2004. The lack of A-list superstars willing to participate also hurt the appeal of the contest to fans.
In 2005, the Slam Dunk Contest returned to its birthplace in Denver and was reborn. With the spectacular dunks of that year's contest, there was buzz that the dunk competition could regain the popularity it had in the 1980s. Amar'e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, and the new champion, Josh Smith, all wowed the crowd with their maneuvers. With the change in the rules requiring an additional teammate starting in the second round, they proved that there were indeed many dunks that people had not done before. Stoudemire and J.R. Smith showed off original dunks that they had spent much time working on. Josh Smith received rave reviews when he did a tribute dunk to the man Dominique Wilkins while donning Wilkins' jersey. Smith's top dunk, arguably one of the best in recent history, shows him hovering over a seated Kenyon Martin as he glides through the air to the basket.
Again in 2006, the Dunk Contest in Houston, Texas revitalized the interests of audiences as 5'9" Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks took the title. One of his most exciting dunks was a high-flying dunk over former Slam Dunk Contest winner, 5'7" Spud Webb. The 2006 Slam Dunk Contest was also the first Dunk Contest in history to have a "Dunk Off", the equivalent to a Dunk Contest overtime, between Knicks point guard Nate Robinson and shooting guard Andre Iguodala of the Philadelphia 76ers. Many fans argue that Iguodala should have won the contest, one of the reasons being that Robinson needed seventeen attempts before finally completing his dunk. Iguodala also pulled off a dunk where he started out of bounds from the right side of the baseline. Teammate Allen Iverson bounced the ball off the back of the right side of the backboard, then Iguodala caught the ball in mid-air behind the backboard, whirled around to the other side while ducking his head (to avoid colliding with the backboard) and dunked it with his right hand.
On February 17, 2007, the contest was held in Las Vegas. Judges for the event were all past winners: Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Kobe Bryant, Julius Erving, and Vince Carter. The title was taken by the Boston Celtics' Gerald Green, who, among other dunks, jumped over reigning champ Nate Robinson while covering his face - an homage to 1991 winner, Dee Brown, whose jersey Green had worn. He also scored a perfect fifty with his last slam, a windmill over a table. Other noteworthy dunks include a dunk by Orlando Magic forward Dwight Howard, who, while making his dunk, stuck a sticker with his smiling face on the backboard a reported 12'6" from the ground, two and a half feet beyond the regulation NBA rim.
|2012||Jeremy Evans (Utah Jazz)||6 ft 9 in|
|2011||Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)||6 ft 10 in|
|2010||Nate Robinson (New York Knicks)||5 ft 9 in|
|2009||Nate Robinson (New York Knicks)||5 ft 9 in|
- 2009 - Nate Robinson, New York Knicks
- 2008 - Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
- 2007 - Gerald Green, Boston Celtics
- 2006 - Nate Robinson, New York Knicks
- 2005 - Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
- 2004 - Fred Jones, Indiana Pacers
- 2003 - Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors
- 2002 - Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors
- 2001 - Desmond Mason, Seattle SuperSonics
- 2000 - Vince Carter, Toronto Raptors
- 1999 - Lockout - Shortened Season, No NBA All Star Game
- 1998 - No Slam Dunk Competition
- 1997 - Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
- 1996 - Brent Barry, Los Angeles Clippers
- 1995 - Harold Miner, Miami Heat
- 1994 - Isaiah Rider, Minnesota Timberwolves
- 1993 - Harold Miner, Miami Heat
- 1992 - Cedric Ceballos, Phoenix Suns
- 1991 - Dee Brown, Boston Celtics
- 1990 - Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks
- 1989 - Kenny Walker, New York Knicks
- 1988 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
- 1987 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
- 1986 - Spud Webb, Atlanta Hawks
- 1985 - Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks
- 1984 - Larry Nance, Phoenix Suns