Slam Dunk Contest
The Slam Dunk Contest is a slam dunk competition where competitors try and perform their best slam dunks.
The Slam Dunk Contest was inaugurated by the American Basketball Association at its All-Star Game in 1976 in Denver, just as the slam dunk was legalized in the NCAA. It enabled players to showcase their dunking skills and try to out-dunk each other. However, this contest would be short-lived as the ABA merged the following year with the National Basketball Association. Realizing the popularity of slam dunks, the NBA soon created a contest of its own, which made it's first appearance in 1984.
The very first slam dunk contest in 1976 at the ABA All-Star Game was won by Julius Erving.
The NBA reintroduced the Slam Dunk Contest in 1984 at its birthplace in Denver. This paved the way for one of the most memorable slam dunks in NBA history, as Erving dunked from the free throw line, however he would lose out in the finals to Larry Nance. The 1985 Slam Dunk Contest came down to a showdown between Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan, with Wilkins emerging victorious. In 1986, with Jordan out with an injury, Wilkins was expected to defend his crown at the Slam Dunk Contest. It would be a teammate who would prevent Wilkins from repeating as champ. His Atlanta Hawks teammate, Spud Webb, made history when he upset Wilkins in the final. Webb became the shortest player ever to win the contest. Standing only five feet seven inches tall, Webb had to jump nearly all of his height just to slam on the ten foot tall basket.
The Slam Dunk Contest had always been a big hit with fans but interest in the contest began to wane in the mid 1990s. Initially, it was some of the players who lost interest in competing. Most players cited concerns of injuries and others felt that all the different kinds of dunks had been exhausted. With most of the superstars choosing not to participate, lesser known players began to compete. This led to a watered-down competition. Players would win contests with boring or completely unoriginal dunks. Because of declining interest and ratings, the NBA decided to cancel the Slam Dunk Contest after the 1997 event. It was during that year's contest that a young Kobe Bryant did a between the legs dunk that made him the winner. The rest of the competition (or lack thereof) had offered little variety to their dunks and this quickly led to fan criticism of it being "boring." The between the leg dunk was first preformed by Isaiah Rider in the 1994 dunk contest.
After a two season layoff, the NBA decided to bring the contest back. The initial contest after this was in 2000. It featured a great showdown between Vince Carter, the eventual winner, his cousin, Tracy McGrady, and Steve Francis. However, the next four contests did not feature superstars and talks again began that maybe the contest should be eliminated. The main argument was that players could not really come up with any more dunks that people had never seen before. The lack of superstars willing to participate also hurt the appeal of the contest to fans.
In 2005, the Slam Dunk Contest returned to its birthplace in Denver and was reborn. With the spectacular dunks of that year's contest, there was buzz that the dunk competition could regain the popularity it had in the 1980s. Amare Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, and the new champion, Josh Smith, all wowed the crowd with their maneuvers. With the change in the rules requiring an additional teammate starting in the second round, they proved that there were indeed many dunks that people had not done before. Stoudemire and J.R. Smith showed off original dunks that they had spent much time working on. Josh Smith received rave reviews when he did a tribute dunk to Dominique Wilkins whiles donning Wilkens' jersey. Smith's top dunk, arguably one of the best in recent history, shows him hovering over a seated Kenyon Martin as he glides through the air to the basket.
Again in 2006, the Dunk Contest in Houston, Texas revitalized the interests of audiences as 5'9" Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks took the title. One of his most exciting dunks was a high-flying dunk over former Slam Dunk Contest winner, 5'7" Spud Webb. The 2006 Slam Dunk Contest was also the first Dunk Contest in history to have a "Dunk Off", the equivalent to a Dunk Contest overtime, between Knicks point guard Nate Robinson and shooting guard Andre Iguodala of the Philadelphia 76ers. Many fans argue that Iguodala should have won the contest, one of the reasons being that Robinson needed at least fourteen attempts before finally completing his dunk. Igodala also pulled off a dunk where he started out of bounds on the baseline, threw the ball off the back of the backboard, whirled around and dunked it.
In 07, the contest was held in Las Vegas. The title was taken by the Boston Celtics Gerald Green, who, among other dunks, jumped over reigning champ Nate Robinson. He also scored a perfect ten with his last slam, a windmill over a table.
Past NBA Slam Dunk Contest champions:
* 2007 - Gerald Green, Boston Celtics
* 2006 - Nate Robinson, New York Knicks
* 2005 - Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
* 2004 - Fred Jones, Indiana Pacers
* 2003 - Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors
* 2002 - Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors
* 2001 - Desmond Mason, Seattle SuperSonics
* 2000 - Vince Carter, Toronto Raptors
* 1999 - Competition not held
* 1998 - Competition not held
* 1997 - Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
* 1996 - Brent Barry, Los Angeles Clippers
* 1995 - Harold Miner, Miami Heat
* 1994 - Isaiah Rider, Minnesota Timberwolves
* 1993 - Harold Miner, Miami Heat
* 1992 - Cedric Ceballos, Phoenix Suns
* 1991 - Dee Brown, Boston Celtics
* 1990 - Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks
* 1989 - Kenny Walker, New York Knicks
* 1988 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
* 1987 - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
* 1986 - Spud Webb, Atlanta Hawks
* 1985 - Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks
* 1984 - Larry Nance, Phoenix Suns
Famous Non-NBA Slam Dunk Contests:
* 1976 ABA Slam Dunk Contest (Julius Erving) -- Reputedly the first slam dunk contest in history. It took place during the 1976 ABA All-Star Weekend. The contest featured a plethora of famous players including Artis Gilmore, George Gervin, and David Thompson. Julius Erving won the contest with his famous freethrow line slam.
* 1996 Orchies Non-Stop Basketball Dunk Contest (Abdoul Bamba) -- A dunk contest taking place in Orchies, France which featured many of today's European dunking elite including Kadour Ziani, Solamon Sami, and Abdoul Bamba, all from the slam-dunking squad "Slam Nation". The contest was highlighted by a high level of competition from all the participants and featured many innovative jams. The eventual winner was Abdoul Bamba who won with his famous cartwheel dunk, where he caught a ball off the floor in mid cartwheel and slammed it home.
* 2001 Mcdonalds All American High School Dunk Contest (David Lee) -- The 2001 High School Dunk Contest featured many great dunks but is most noted for creating a controversy with the victory of David Lee. While Lee had many strong dunks including an innovative faux-shoot alley-oop, bounce off the ground, between the legs slam, many viewers felt that dunking phenom James White with his powerful jams, including two amazing free-throw line dunk variations, deserved to win. The contest remains a judging controversy to this day.
* 2003 SuperPages Slam Dunk Contest (Henry Bekkering) -- This Canadian dunk contest was made famous on the internet by the amazing dunks of 6'3" Henry Bekkering which included a windmill slam over a standing person and a left handed freethrow line dunk jumping off 2 feet. Video of the contest dissemnated quickly across the internet and it's fame led to a television appearance for Bekkering on The Best Damn Sports Show Period.
* 2005 City Slam Dunk Contest (Chris Lowery a.k.a. Skywalker) -- This nation-wide dunk contest culminated in championships at Chicago. The City Slam Championship featured many never before seen spectacular slams including a 360 between the legs dunk by Marvin Collins aka High Riser. Mad Skillz Tommy Schillz, a streetballer from Norwood, New Jersey is also infamous for his version of a between the legs 360 dunk, known commonly as "the Schillmatic Slam." Mad Skillz plays basketball with numerous NBA basketball players such as Ron Artest, Ricky Davis, and his good friend, Stephen Jackson. The contest was won by Chris Lowery aka Skywalker when he jumped over a car and completed one of the best dunks ever in the city slam contest.
Windmill dunks are done when a player makes a circular motion with the ball while in the air before dunking it. These can either be done with one or two hands. Versions of this dunk include the Kiss the Rim, the reverse windmill (usually done with two hands), and the 360 windmill. Notable examples of this dunk are Dominique Wilkins's windmills during the 1988 and 1990 contest, Michael Jordan's kiss the rim during the 1987 and 1988 contest, Vince Carter's contest-winning 360 windmill in the 2000 contest, and James White's windmill from the free throw line in the 2006 NCAA Dunk Contest
360s are dunks where a player spins with his body for almost a full revolution. These can be seen either with one or two hands. There are a lot of 360 variations, including the 360 windmill by Vince Carter in the 2000 slam dunk, Terence Stansbury's "Statue of Liberty" 360, Air Up There's so called "720", High Riser's 360 through the legs, the double pump done by Tracy McGrady in the 2000 slam dunk contest and many more.
This is a dunk where the player jumps from the free throw line. The free throw line is, in the NBA, 12.8 feet away from the rim. Jim Pollard is known to have dunked from the foul line during warmups in the early years of the NBA (Official NBA Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, p. 49). At the University of Kansas, Wilt Chamberlain was able to dunk from the free throw line while starting his movement from within the free throw circle; this led to a rule change prohibiting shooting free throws by dunking the basketball (The Leaping Legends of Basketball, The Los Angeles Times; Feb 12, 1989; Scott Ostler).
Notable examples of this dunk in a slam dunk competition are Julius Erving during the 1976 ABA contest and the 1984 NBA contest, Michael Jordan during the 1985, 1987 and 1988 contests, Scottie Pippen during the 1990 contest, and Brent Barry during the 1996 contest, and former Cincinnati Bearcat James White who pulled off a between the legs dunk from the free throw line at his school's midnight madness.
Also known as "through the legs", or the more-proper "Rider" dunk (named after Isaiah Rider, see below), this is done when the ball goes between the legs of the player while in the air before being dunked. Visually impressive, these usually achieve a high score from the judges. Notable examples of this dunk include Vince Carter's off the floor, between the legs during the 2000 contest, Kobe Bryant's between the legs during the 1997 contest, Desmond Mason's "show it right, slam it left" between the legs during the 2003 contest, and Jason Richardson's off the glass, between the legs during the 2004 contest, and Isaiah Rider's "East Bay Funk Dunk" in the 1994 contest, as he did in his high school dunk contest. Because he was the earliest display of the "between-the-legs" dunk, some call it the "Rider", due to his pioneering of its discovery.
Nowadays, the Rider has been developed to more than just its basic movement. Several people in the world have managed to do a 360 rider : Abdoul Bamba from the Slam Nation dunking troupe, Yann de Blaine of Slam Nation and Dunkalicious dunking crews, Taurian Fontenette aka Air Up There from the AND 1 Streetball team and "High Riser" from the 2005 City Slam. Mad Skillz Tommy Schillz (a Streetballer from Norwood, New Jersey) completed a 360 between the legs dunk, which he called the "Schillmatic Slam" to win the 3rd Annual Rucker Park Dunk-Off in March of 2006. An alley-oop-off-the-floor 360 between the legs was attempted by Jason Richardson in the 2004 Slam Dunk Contest, but he couldn't succeed any time he tried, thus leading to his defeat by then-Indiana Pacers guard Fred Jones (Jones now plays for the Toronto Raptors). James White, currently of the San Antonio Spurs, attempted a through the legs dunk from the free throw line during the college slam dunk contest. Although he was not successful during the contest, he did succeed in doing it during warm-ups, and had done it in the past, during his high school's midnight madness, and the high school dunk contest.
A double clutch dunk is when a player brings the ball back to his body before extending the ball back out to dunk it. Versions of this dunk include the kickback, the jackknife, and the double pump. Most times the ball is brought back near the player's head before being dunked. Notable examples include Michael Jordan's double clutch, free throw line dunk from the 1988 contest, Tracy McGrady's 360 reverse double pump from the 2000 contest, Steve Francis's double pump, kiss the rim from the 2000 contest, Shawn Kemp's kickback from the 1991 contest, and Harold Miner's reverse jackknife from the 1993 contest.
Also known as Rock the Cradle. This is a version of the windmill where the ball is "locked" into a player's wrist while the player makes a circular motion with the ball. However, unlike windmills where the ball starts the circle from the top, rock the baby dunks start the circle from the bottom. Notable examples include Larry Nance's rock the baby during the 1984 contest and Kenny Walker's baseline rock the baby during the 1989 contest.
Another popular type of dunk. The player throws the ball and bounces it off the backboard, catches it in mid air and dunks it. This can be combined with other types such as the windmill, reverse or tomahawk dunk. One of the first uses of this dunk in a professional game was done by Tracy McGrady in the 2002 All-Star Game. According to Bill Walton, it was the first time he ever saw this kind of dunk. In recent years, many other "alley-oop" dunks have become commonplace in the contest, where either the player tosses the ball to himself, or a teammate passes it to him, and the player catches it in the air and dunks it. For instance in 2006, Andre Iguodala of the Philadelphia 76ers performed a never-before-seen behind the backboard dunk from a pass off team-mate Allen Iverson. A year earlier, in the 2005 Slam Dunk Contest, Amare Stoudemire actually caught the ball off of the head of Steve Nash, which is perhaps the most unique variation of the "alley-oop" style of dunk to date.
One particularly tricky and therefore seldom-seen dunk is the dunk without visual cues. In 1991, Dee Brown performed a one-handed slam dunk in which he dunked with his left arm while shielding his eyes with his right arm. One year later, Cedric Ceballos performed a blindfolded dunk, although it has been disputed as to whether or not he could actually see.
Also known as the "Honey Dip", "Rim Hook" or the "Arm in the Rim", this is a highly spectacular dunk where a player jumps up so high that he is not only able to put the ball, but also his forearm through the hoop, leaving him hanging off the rim off his elbow. It was first demonstrated in public by Vince Carter in the 2000 edition of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest and is considered virtually unique. Gerald Green also did this in the National High School Dunk Contest during his senior year, Henry Bekkering performed it during the SuperPages dunk contest, and it is also done by others. It is considered amazing, and a dunker is considered a "high flyer" if they can perform this dunk.
720 is a more difficult variation of 360 dunks where a player spins with his body for almost two full revolutions, and is considered the most difficult dunk ever done. Recently, the dunk was successfully done by a street baller Taurian Fontenette during an And 1 Mixtape Tour game in Houston on June 28, 2006. He also performed it for a news program in New York, on the street, and for The Best Damn Sports Show Period for their "50 Greatest Dunks Ever" special. Patrick Ewing, Jr. also successfully performed a 720 dunk.
* The first free throw line dunk in an official slam dunk competition by Julius Erving (1976 ABA Dunk Contest).
* The free throw line double clutch jam by Michael Jordan (1988 NBA Dunk Contest).
* The East Bay Funk Dunk by Isaiah "J.R." Rider (1994 NBA Dunk Contest).
* The between the legs dunk by Jameel Pugh. Later emulated by Vince Carter (2000 Slam Magazine "World's best dunker")
* Vince Carter's reverse 360 Windmill (which drove everybody off their seats), the off the bounce, between the legs dunk.
* The 2003 reverse between the legs and the 2004 off-the-backboard between the legs dunks by Jason Richardson.
* The behind the back dunk by Patrick Ewing, Jr., done again by J.R. Smith (2003 Indiana Hoosiers Slam Dunk Contest, then 2005 NBA Slam Dunk Contest). The behind the back dunk was modified in the 2006 NBA Slam Dunk Contest by Andre Iguodala when he dunked it off an alley-oop.
* Also in the 2005 NBA SDC, the dunks using a prop from Josh Smith and Amare Stoudemire (read below for more information).
* In the 2006 NCAA Dunk Contest, James "The Flight" White completed a windmill from the free throw line.
* 2006 NBA Dunk Contest Nate Robinson jumps over Spud Webb and then dunks.
* 2006 NBA Dunk Contest Andre Iguodala was thrown an alley-oop from behind the backboard.