Since it's debut in 1984, the Dunk Contest has been gaining in popularity. Who are we kidding? It's safe to say it's officially the highlight of NBA All-Star Weekend. With the festivities fully upon us, the EBONY.com team wants to jog your memories of the most impressive efforts of all time. Check out our list of all-time favorite Dunk Contest winners and let us know in comments which ones were your favorite grand slams.
In 2000, Carter was a guard for the Toronto Raptors, one of the NBA's newest franchises, and one of the league's hottest players. He was no longer a rookie, but still had much to prove. In this clip, he shuts down all doubters and even has Shaquille O'Neal pointing his camcorder ('memba those?) at him.
In 1989, it was all about "Fight the Power," and high-top fades. But that year, the New York Knicks' small forward Kenny "Sky" Walker was the power and knew how to fade. In this clip you can see some NBA legends like Clyde Drexler and Dominique Wilkins, but none of them compared to Walker's reverse 360-degree move.
In 1992, we could not believe what Phoenix Suns small forward Cedric Ceballos pulled off — or rather put on: a blindfold. That was enough to drive judges, and the crowd wild. It earned him a perfect score of 50 and high praise from Magic Johnson himself.
In the initial Dunk Contest in 1984, Phoenix Suns forward Larry Nance didn't even completely take off his warm-ups. He didn't have to. Barely looking at the rim, he karate chops a dunk so fast, it was hard to see it. You might have to rewind a couple of times to take the whole thing in. Go ahead. We'll wait.
Ok, so we're not going to get into any discussions here about who's better: Steph Curry or Michael Jordan. Two different players, two different eras. But in 1988, Jordan wasn't even on the NBA throne yet, but made it clear that it needed to be cleared to make way for him. In this clip, the Chicago Bulls forward defends his 1987 title by making his dunk from the free throw line.
In the 1993 Dunk Contest, Miami Heat shooting guard Harold Miner proved that it is possible to alley-oop yourself with a spring style dunk that he brought from his feet and slammed into the rim. Even the ever-charming Charles Barkley was struck speechless by that one.
Does size matter? Nope. If you don't believe us, take a look at Atlanta Hawks point guard Spud Webb. Only 5'7" but had no problem flying just as high as people a foot taller than him. He only played in the NBA three seasons, but there's no question he was able to hang with the big boys.
It wasn't the then-Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard's behind the backboard slam that drove the crowd over the top in the 2008 Dunk Contest. It was getting point guard Jameer Nelson to assist him when he donned a Superman cape and caught a mid-air pass appearing to soar like the Man of Steel. It was so overwhelming, the arena started to play John Williams' classic theme music.
By 2011, there was no question how much commercialism had been introduced into the Dunk Contest. This year, Kia Motors couldn't have gotten themselves more involved when L.A. Clippers power forward Blake Griffin won the contest by leaping over a Kia Optima — that's after a gospel choir was brought onto the court to motivate him by singing R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly." This left two things clear: 1) People can, and do, leap over cars and, 2) The L.A. Clippers had become the dominant NBA team in Los Angeles — something none of us thought we'd live to see.
Finally, we'd be remiss in talking about the NBA Dunk Contest if we didn't look back to the origins of the competition in the old ABA. You're probably too young to remember the league that competed with the NBA until its merger in 1976, but that's where greats like George Gervin, Artis Gilmore, and a young upstart named Julius Erving began. Here "Dr. J", as he came to be known, remembers his battle with Gervin to take the 1976 crown.