The NBA Dunk Contest is probably my favorite single sporting event of the year purely for entertainment purposes. From the dunks to the over-the-top announcers to the player reactions, it’s an odd combination of exciting, hilarious and suspenseful. This year will probably be pretty weak considering the talent. I think LeBron James should have followed through on his commitment from last year. Of course he doesn’t have to dunk and really gains nothing from competeting, but it would just be cool. All the greats have done it–Kobe, Vince, Dominue, Jordan, Dr. J. LeBron is the only current player I can think of that would make everyone tune in to watch and blow us away with things we’ve never seen before. 540 anyone?
In hour of NBA All-Star Weekend, I have compiled my favorite dunk contest moments.
10. Gerald Green Blows It Out (2008)
It was tough for Green to go against Howard in 2008, but he managed to make it a competetion and bring some creativity with ‘blowin’ out the cupcake’ dunk. The dunk itself isn’t anything special, but he was able to jump high enough and displayed great showmanship. Kenny Smith also does a great job selling the dunk with his classic “He BLEW IT OUT!” call. I watched this year in NYC with friends on DVR at two in the morning after coming home from bars. Alcohol made this dunk hilarious.
9. Steve Nash/ Amare Stoudemire Soccer Style (2005)
Steve Nash plays soccer. Great idea by Stoudemire to involve him in the dunk and nice execution on the 360.
8. Jason Richardson Through the Legs Lefty Reverse (2003)
I was never a huge Richardson fan, and if I can remember right, he didn’t have much of a challenge during his two-year reign. Looking back on this dunk, it’s pretty damn impressive.
7. JR Smith Behind the Back (2005)
This dunk is severely underrated and ahead of it’s time. Andre Iguodala did the same jam with a bounce a few years later.
6. Dwight Howard Both Hands (2008)
This dunk looks almost too easy for Howard. The hang-time with hand coordination is crazy. And he did it on the first try. If Howard misses his first attempt, the shock and surprise is gone and he’s deducted points.
5. Dee Brown No-Look (1991)
For 1991 standards, this was a huge dunk. I remember the Reebok Pumps and trying to emulate Brown on a seven foot rim in my driveway.
4. Michael Jordan Takes Flight (1987)
Jordan’s most famous dunk contest slam is the foul line “logo” dunk, but I like the one at the 2:30 mark better. The slow motion replay is poetry.
2 & 3. Vince Carter 360 Strong / Vince Carter’s Arm (2000)
Vince Carter in 2000 was a beast. Simply the greatest dunk for dunk performance in contest history. The power and amplitude of Vinsanity’s dunks was beyond anything we’ve ever seen. He started with the windmill 360 and never missed. He pumped up the crowd and knew he was going to win from the minute he walked on the court. The mini-documentary above is classic. Shaq’s first reaction is gold. Then, like Vince says, when he shoved his forearm through the rim, the crowd went silent, not knowing what they just witnessed. Vince could have been immortal if he finished with something more impressive than just a two-handed semi-foul line jam.
1. Dwight Howard Superman (2008)
Vince may be the greatest, but the best moment came when Dwight Howard dawned the superman cape and flew for the coolest thing I’ve seen in a dunk contest. The showmanship, the crowd’s energy, Howard’s pure size–they all contributed to the dunk. Again, this dunk was executed in one attempt and that’s what makes it so impressive. Yes, technically you could say that Howard didn’t actually dunk the ball, rather he just threw it in from two feet away, but the slow motion replay from both angles is just sick.