The NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest is one of the most exciting events of All-Star Weekend. And while some years are better than others, people tune in to see what spectacular dunks players come up with.
Houston Rockets rookie Jalen Green is one of this year’s participants (and arguably the favorite). However, with high-flyers like Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks, Cole Anthony of the Orlando Magic, and Juan Toscano-Anderson of the Golden State Warriors, Green has his work cut out for him. Regardless, fans are in for a show.
The Dunk Contest has had some incredible contests throughout the years, and if you are a true fan, you’ll remember these moments.
Here are five of the best Dunk Contests of all time.
1.) Vince Carter Leaves Fans in Awe, 2000
The 2000 Slam Dunk Contest is often considered the greatest contest of all time. This year was the return of the Dunk Contest after two years without it. The WNBA–NBA 2Ball Competition replaced the contest in 1998, and the NBA had a shortened season (due to a lockout) and didn’t have an All-Star event in 1999.
The 2000 contest was special as former Toronto Raptors star Vince Carter did some amazing dunks, including his “arm in the rim” dunk. Carter had a perfect score on nearly all of his dunks and set a high bar for future participants. Tracy McGrady (Carter’s cousin) and former Houston Rockets guard Steve Francis also did well in this contest, but Carter’s dunks were too powerful. This was a great contest and a tough act to follow.
2.) Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine Put on A Show, 2016
After the 2000 Dunk Contest, it seemed like there would never be another contest as great. But two young dunkers proved fans wrong. The 2016 contest was excellent, and like 2016 is a tough act to follow.
Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon and Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (who played for the Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves, respectively) went back and forth with amazing, innovative dunks. And, It took two tie-breakers to determine a winner.
Zach LaVine won this contest, which gave him his second consecutive Dunk Contest win. He joined players like Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson as participants that won back-to-back contests. This was a memorable contest, and in a way, it brought the Dunk Contest back to the forefront of All-Star Weekend.
3.) “Air” Jordan Beats Dominique Wilkins, 1988
Michael Jordan is one of the greatest players and dunkers of all time. He participated in three contests and won two of them.
Jordan lost to Dominique Wilkins in 1985, but he returned in 1987 to win his first contest. Then, in 1988, Jordan and Wilkins (who missed the previous year’s contest) battled one last time. Their rematch lived up to the hype of the first, as Wilkins’s powerful dunks took on the graceful dunks of Jordan.
Jordan won this contest after his signature free-throw line dunk. The series between Jordan and Wilkins was tied 1-1, and with this being Jordan’s last dunk contest, fans didn’t see the tie-breaker.
4.) Dwight Howard Becomes Superman, 2008
Dwight Howard may have lost his first contest in 2007, but in 2008, he returned with a vengeance. Howard returned with an array of dunks, including his famous “Superman” dunk.
Howard had a perfect score in the first round and won the fan vote in the second. Howard came back the following year to defend his title but lost to another Dunk Contest champion.
5.) Nate Robinson Beats Superman, 2009
Nate Robinson is a three-time Dunk Contest winner. He won his first in 2006 and became the shortest competitor since Spud Webb to win the contest.
Robinson came back in 2009 and beat defending champ Howard and became known as “Krypto-Nate.” He started the first round trailing to Howard (who had perfect scores), but he came back in the finals to win his second contest. Howard and Robinson put on a show and established themselves as two great dunkers.
The Dunk Contest is usually exciting, and hopefully, this year is no exception!