Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
What stands out as your favorite all-time Dunk Contest dunk?
Steve Aschburner: I’m going with my pick of the most neglected, underappreciated dunk in Slam Dunk contest history. When Andre Iguodala came from back amongst the photographers on the baseline on one of his throwdowns in Houston in 2006, the geometry seemed impossible. Somehow, as a helper bounced the ball off the back of the backboard, Iguodala grabbed the carom, ducked his head to avoid the both the glass and any support bars and dunked from behind the board. It was stunning, and remarkable that he didn’t slam-head-dunk-himself. The Sixers’ young forward had two other terrific dunks, including a windmill in which he passed the ball behind his back … and he came away with nothing. That was one of the years in which people were fascinated with Nate Robinson‘s little-man theatrics, which meant sitting through about 20 straight misses (yawn) till he got a big one right. Said it then and I’ll say it again: Iggy was robbed.
Fran Blinebury: I’ve seen them all in person since Larry Nance upset Dr. J in the first back in 1984 at Denver. Michael Jordan beating Dominique Wilkins at Chicago in 1988 was spectacular. Vince Carter putting his elbow on the rim in 2000 in Oakland was awesome. But I had the best seat in the house — front row courtside, straight out from the free throw line — at Dallas in 1986 and 5-foot-7 Spud Webb was simply breathtaking. He started by slamming a backwards dunk so hard that ball went through the net and bounced off his head. He did a pair of 360s and a double-clutch, two-hander. Then he finally took down Dominique in the finals by bouncing the ball just inside the free throw line and off the glass, catching it in his right hand and slamming it home. One of the photos from Sports Illustrated shows his feet even with referee Wally Rooney‘s chest. Air Spud. I can still see the little guy flying.
Jeff Caplan: I just ran into Dominique Wilkins the other night and he’s not all that fond of this year’s dunk contestants. Nothing against the guys personally, but he’d like to see some bigger names go at it like back in the day. So, I’m going way back to the Human Highlight Film’s windmill dunks because, frankly, I think he’s the one that introduced the windmill dunk or at least elevated it to an artform converging out-of-this-world athletic, finesse and raw power. So which windmill dunk? After all, Wilkins is a two-time dunk champ and probably should have won one or two more considering he was in five of them. Anyway, I’ll take Niques’ two-handed windmill jam that earned him the ’85 title in a showdown with Michael Jordan, who, by the way, brought out the rock-the-cradle jam.
Scott Howard-Cooper: If we’re talking NBA dunk contest, that leaves out the great Julius Erving–David Thompson moment at halftime in Denver in the ABA days. In the orange-ball world, I’ll go with Blake Griffin redefining the term carhop. So much hype had built through the season about Blake Superior and his dunk arsenal that it seemed there was nothing he could do step up to the moment. And then he did. The car, Baron Davis with the assist, the choir — pure theater. It was way over the top, but what the event needed after years of losing excitement.
John Schuhmann: There’s something — the power, really — about Dominique Wilkins‘ dunks that gets me fired up. My favorite in-game dunk might be the time he destroyed Larry Bird on a fast break, and my favorite dunk contest dunk was his two-handed windmill (8:20 mark here) in the finals of the 1988 contest in Chicago. He got up high, he brought the ball all the way around from left to right, and he almost tore down the rim. Elevation, finesse and oh, the power. We’ve seen more difficult dunks since then, but I’ll always think of ’88 as the best dunk contest ever, because it was two stars going head to head and just thinking up stuff on the fly. Nique did a variety of windmills that night, but the two-hander was the highlight. That the judges gave him a 45 (to open the door for Jordan to win on the final dunk) was pretty ridiculous.
Sekou Smith: “You’re going to a reunion of all the JET Beauty of the Week superstars of the past 40 years. Give me your favorite?” It’s an impossible question given all of the options. Being the lover of hang time that I am, it’s hard to ignore the icons of the contest (Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Dr. J). But as far as anticipation and delivery, I’d have to go with Vince Carter’s work in the 2000 contest. It was a rebirth for the contest, after a two year layoff, and an introduction to a new breed of dunk champ. Vince was the first guy I saw in the contest that took me back to MJ and ‘Nique. His first dunk, that 360 windmill with the cuff, was just plain wicked. Made me love the dunk contest all over again.