I was thinking back to my favorite moments from the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. In my 35 years on this planet, I've developed a love/hate relationship with the actual contest. Lately it's become a silly excuse to use props and have advertising placed in key areas, ala a hackneyed Michael Bay movie. Blake Griffin's "win" in the Dunk contest a couple years ago was a bit of a joke because he didn't even really jump over the car, and it was a glorified ad for KIA. I mean.... if you are going to do product placement, make it a better car than a KIA for gods sake!
Anyway, there have been tremendous moments. Nate Robinson jumping over Dwight Howard was pretty cool, but outside of that the Dunk contest has devolved into a silly joke because the stars that matter (aka LeBron James) have avoided the contest like the plague. While LeBron doesn't "owe" the Dunk contest anything, his absence does point to the way the NBA has evolved over the years.
The best NBA players, in general, used to play in the Dunk contest. Be it Julius Erving, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Larry Nance ... and the NBA three point contest used to include the likes of Reggie Miller, Larry Bird, Mark Price and more. Now it's just not the same. You need the stars to shine. You need the competition to be real, like it was in the 80's. Now it's just a bunch of guys having a good time.
Below are two video's of my favorite Dunk contest moments. First, Dominique Wilkins vs Michael Jordan in 1988. Great competition between two of the best dunkers of their era. One of the best, if not THE best Dunk competition there was.
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I believe my colleague Andrew Feinstein has gone on record as saying 'Nique should have won this one. I tend to agree that the judges were far too favorable to Jordan on this one.
My other favorite moment comes from Robert Pack, who became the one Nuggets player to get close in the NBA Slam Dunk contest. He lost to Isaiah Rider who was then playing with the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Important to note that David Thompson finished second in the ABA Slam Dunk contest in 1976 to Julius Erving, I'm only including the NBA in this ... that was a pivotal moment for basketball history though)
Here is Pack's routine in 1994 that earned him second place in the Dunk Contest
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We also talked about the Dunk contest on the Colorado Sports Guys Podcast. We talked about Dunk Contest trivia and the sorry state of the competition. Listen right here.
Who knows where the NBA will go from here. Our own Nate Timmons is in New Orleans as we speak and will give us the best coverage Denver will see of the whole weekend.
What is your favorite Dunk Contest moment?