There was a time when the NBA Slam Dunk Contest dominated the league’s All-Star Weekend. Basketball fans wanted nothing more than to tune into the contest and see the best high-flyers in the NBA do battle. Unfortunately, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest doesn’t have the same excitement it once did as many of the Association’s big-named players no longer compete in it. Some never did as the contest has often been considered a mere competition for players who can do nothing more than dunk. However, there was a time that the league’s biggest names like Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, and Vince Carter competed in the contest and soared to heights never before seen.
- Dominique Wilkins – 1985
While many NBA fans cite Jordan’s NBA Slam Dunk contest win in 1987 as one of the all-time best, the 1985 was nearly just as good. The contest pitted Jordan, a rising star still young in his career up against another iconic player of the time period, Dominique Wilkins. The “Human Highlight Reel” would battle Jordan just three years later in the competition once more and that contest would have a different result. The 1985 edition also had the backdrop of Jordan’s Air Jordan 1 controversy. According to Betway Basketball, Jordan’s banned black and red shoes were allowed during the Slam Dunk Contest, although he wasn’t able to lace them up during the regular season. Unfortunately for Jordan, Wilkins won with the better jams.
- Spud Webb – 1986
One of the more forgotten high flyers in the NBA’s history, Spud Webb set the league on fire in 1986 by winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. What made Webb’s win so remarkable was his height or lack thereof. Standing at just 5ft 7in, Webb had an incredible leaping ability which made up for his shortness. In the finals, he bested Atlanta Hawks teammate Dominique Wilkins to win the contest.
- Zach LaVine – 2016
Minnesota Timberwolves player Zach LaVine soared to the dunk title in 2016 with a slam that took influence from Jordan and Isiah Rider’s 1994 win. LaVine leapt from just inside the free-throw line, went between the legs and finished off the move with a Statue of Liberty dunk. The dunk allowed LaVine to leapfrog Aaron Gordan in points and handed him a second straight Slam Dunk Contest title.
- Michael Jordan – 1987
Jordan, like Wilkins, was made for the Slam Dunk Contest. After losing to Wilkins in 1985 and not taking part the following year, Jordan was back in 1987. The most memorable dunk of the contest was Jordan’s “Kiss the Rim” dunk. At the time, when dunks weren’t seen as often as today, it was an unbelievable throwdown. Modern NBA fans are spoilt by great dunks, but in 1987, it was a brilliant slam by a player that hadn’t yet hit his pinnacle.
- Vince Carter – 2000
Vince Carter’s 2000 Slam Dunk Contest winning dunk is often cited as the greatest in the competition’s rich history. Carter pulled off a reverse 360 windmill dunk with such ease that it looked second nature. The then-Toronto Raptors forward re-popularized the contest in the years that followed.