Bill Trikos top 10 NBA slam dunk contests of all time: The Slam Dunk Contest is one of the spectacles to watch during the NBA All-Star weekend. Throughout NBA history, we’ve seen the best dunkers in the league showcase their freakish athleticism in the annual dunking exhibition. From using cars, candles, and even grown men, dunkers have a lot of things at their disposal to show basketball fans the best dunk they have to offer. Although some dunk contests are forgettable, others will be remembered forever. For this piece, let’s rank the 10 best NBA Slam Dunk contests of all time. See additional info about the author at Bill Trikos Australia.
Standing at just 5’6”, Spud Webb wouldn’t strike you as the average NBA player. As a matter of fact, not many people would ever think that he could be a professional basketball player, let alone win the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest. But make no mistake. What Webb lacked in size, he made up for in hops. He would take over and float mid-air and made a name for himself for his emphatic, explosive dunks; even posterizing some of the best rim protectors in the Association.
“We had to come up with a concept that would get everyone’s attention,” former Nuggets executive Carl Scheer told the Houston Chronicle in 1996 (via News Corp Australia’s Sam Gardner). “We were in serious trouble. We knew that it was our last year, and we had to make a big impression.” Eight years later, Erving, just shy of his 34th birthday and well into his tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers, revived his free-throw flight at the NBA’s inaugural dunk contest. That dunk went down as the first to earn a perfect score in the NBA, though it wasn’t enough to propel Dr. J past Larry Nance for the title.
On a list of the most creative dunks, this might rank No. 1. In 2008, then-Minnesota Timberwolves guard Rashad McCants placed a cupcake on the back of the rim and lit a candle that was on top of the pastry. McCants then bounced the ball to teammate and defending champion Gerald Green, who stretched out to corral it and throw down a two-handed dunk. While the jam didn’t look all that spectacular in real-time, the slo-mo replay showed just how cool of a maneuver it was as Green blew out the candle mid-dunk. Somehow, this wasn’t a perfect 50.
Nate Robinson is the most decorated diminutive dunker of all time, with three All-Star Weekend crowns in his trophy case. But the best slam ever pulled off by someone so far below 6’0″ belongs to Spud Webb. The Dallas native put on a show for his hometown at Reunion Arena, punctuated by a sky-high bouncing lob that Webb caught and converted into a reverse, spread-eagle slam. The jaw-dropping display helped the rookie outduel Dominique Wilkins, his Atlanta Hawks teammate and the NBA’s defending dunk champion, in a face-off that was ultimately decided by just two points in the final.
We’ve seen players throw the ball off the glass and go through the legs. We’ve seen players jump over people and dunk. Until this moment, we had never seen a player jump over someone, throw the ball off the glass and put it between their legs for a dunk. Nash deserves as much credit as Stoudemire here, but the timing and precision of this dunk help it crack the top 10. Stoudemire threw the perfect pass off the backboard and Nash delivered an even more perfect header for the 360. The Slam Dunk Contest had never seen anything like this before. All you can do is laugh when you see this dunk. Webb is 5’7. You are not supposed to be able to do 360 dunks off of a lob at that height. It looks like a video game glitch the way Webb rises up to finish this one.
In truth, the tougher task for all involved will be coming up with—and pulling off—a move worthy of all-time consideration. Scroll through the history of the dunk contest—which began in 1984 and took a break in 1998 and 1999—and you’ll see just about every shape and style of slam imaginable. How, then, could the latest quartet of entrants hope to break new ground? It’s a question fans have asked every year, and it’s been answered affirmatively just as often. So long as there’s fresh blood in the field, there will always be something new, different and downright unbelievable to behold.