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The NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Updated on October 9, 2014
The Original: Dr. J
The Original: Dr. J

The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is an annual competition held during NBA All Star Weekend where the best dunkers in the league are chosen to show off their talents. The contest did not start in the NBA however, as it originally developed in the American Basketball Association (ABA).

The first professional slam dunk contest occurred during the ABA All Star game in 1976 in Denver, Colorado. The winner of this contest was Julius Erving better known as Dr. J. The slam dunk contest, however, would be short lived as the ABA and NBA merged the following year.

The Best Ever?

Wilkins v. Jordan

Dee Brown: 1991 Winner
Dee Brown: 1991 Winner

Early Dunk Contests

Realizing the popularity of the slam dunk, the NBA reintroduced the Slam Dunk Contest in 1984 at its birthplace in Denver. Larry Nance won the event but Julius Erving gave the event its most memorable moment with a dunk from the free throw line. Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks won the next year. In 1986, Spud Webb, all of five foot seven, defeated Dominique Wilkins for the championship becoming the shortest player to ever win the slam dunk contest. Webb’s record holds to this day.

The most memorable slam dunk contests, however, were the contests between Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan in 1987 and 1988. These two players faced off two years in a row with Michael Jordan winning each year. Jordan solidified his rank as the world’s best dunker with a dunk from the free throw line.

The 1990s proved to be an unmemorable time for the slam dunk contest. Interest in the contest waned as the slam dunk superstars did not participate in the contest due to concerns over injuries. Lesser named players competed in the contest and fans complained that the winners were winning the contest with unoriginal and boring dunks. As a result, the 1998 All Star Weekend did not even feature a dunk contest replacing it with a "2 Ball" competition. In 1999, there was no All Star Game at all due to the NBA lockout.

Vince Carter: 2000 Champion
Vince Carter: 2000 Champion
2008 Winner:  Dwight Howard
2008 Winner: Dwight Howard

Nate Robinson

Recent History

After the two season layoff, the slam dunk contest returned to All Star weekend in 2000 in Oakland, California. That contest was one of the best ever. Participants included Steve Francis, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter. Carter won after electrifying the crowd with a 360 degree windmill dunk and a between the legs dunk off an alley-oop. Jason Richardson won the slam dunk contest in 2003 and 2004.

In 2005, the slam dunk contest was reborn again in Denver, Colorado. The competition between Amare Stoudemire, J.R. Smith and Josh Smith brought a new buzz and popularity to the contest not seen since the 1980s. Josh Smith won that year after performing an alley oop dunk over his teammate Kenyon Martin.

In 2006, Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks conjured up images of Spud Webb when the five foot nine guard to the title with a high flying dunk over Spud Webb.

The slam dunk contest has been one of the most popular events during the NBA All Star weekend. However, it struggles to keep its popularity as the fans’ expectations grow each year and in many ways surpass what is possible. That being said, it still is an amazing example of athleticism and power.

NBA Slam Dunk Contest Winners By Year

2009 (Phoenix)          Nate Robinson, New York Knicks

2008 (New Orleans)   Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

2007 (Las Vegas)      Gerald Green, Boston Celtics

2006 (Houston)          Nate Robinson, New York Knicks

2005 (Denver)           Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks

2004 (Los Angeles)   Fred Jones, Indiana Pacers

2003 (Atlanta)            Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors

2002 (Philadelphia)    Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors

2001 (Washington D.C.) Desmond Mason, Seattle Supersonics

2000 (Oakland)          Vince Carter, Toronto Raptors

1997 (Cleveland)        Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

1996 (San Antonio)    Brent Barry, Los Angeles Clippers)

1995 (Phoenix)           Harold Miner, Miami Heat

1994 (Minneapolis)     Isaiah Rider, Minnesota Timberwolves

1993 (Salt Lake City)  Harold Miner, Miami Heat

1992 (Orlando)           Cedric Ceballos, Phoenix Suns

1991 (Charlotte)         Dee Brown, Boston Celtics

1990 (Miami)              Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks

1989 (Houston)          Kenny Walker, New York Knicks

1988 (Chicago)          Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls

1987 (Seattle)            Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls

1986 (Dallas)             Spud Webb, Atlanta Hawks

1985 (Indianapolis)    Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks

1984 (Denver)           Larry Nance, Phoenix Suns

Who Was The Best Slam Dunk Contest Champion?

See results

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    • Sportsrulz19 profile image

      Sportsrulz19 8 years ago

      Hey I like your profile. Id like if you'd look at mine and maybe become a fan.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 8 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks And I will

    • pudding_ninja profile image

      pudding_ninja 8 years ago

      i love the dunk contest

      good article!

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for the comment pudding

    • profile image

      jack23dnny 7 years ago

      you all suck at basketball

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Odd. Thanks for reading

    • profile image

      toddmakessense 7 years ago

      Your post is very good! Informative and well written. If you get a chance please check out my posts. Have a great day.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for reading

    • facebookchat profile image

      facebookchat 7 years ago from Shanghai, China

      I can't stand Nate Robinson! Kraptonite.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      lol, but you have to admire his hops. Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      kalev 7 years ago

      Nate is The Best:)

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      I agree that he is pretty good. Thanks for reading

    • NathanTy profile image

      NathanTy 7 years ago

      Some great photos!

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      THanks for the comment.

    • bree_brown profile image

      bree_brown 6 years ago

      oh my goodness! I love that you did all this! I'm a huge fan of the dunk contest....minus this years. It was terrible!

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Agree, this years was horrible. Gone are the days of Jordan and Wilkins, that was the best.

      Thanks for reading.

    • dwight2mcpherson profile image

      dwight2mcpherson 6 years ago

      The best slam dunk contest since Jordan was Dwights dunk.

      His superman dunk was so insane, it really looked like he was flying. Gosh, the things i would do to be able to dunk.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      I am right there with you dwight, and I agree, Dwight's dunk was crazy

      Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      Sports Star Pro 6 years ago

      The Slam Dunk Contest is one of the most popular NBA contests and the crowd was utterly blown away by Vince Carter's impressive first performance back in 2000 when he made the first 360 ever, even windmilling the ball in the process.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Agreed sports star pro

      There are have been a few pinnacle moments: Spudd, Jordan, Vincanity, Nate.

      Thanks for the comment

    • profile image

      Melvin Youboty 6 years ago

      I love to see my Liberian brother Sb.playing basketball.He dunk will ma.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Cool.

      Thanks for reading

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