The Slam Dunk Contest has always been the most anticipated NBA event of the year outside of the playoffs and it’s without a doubt the favorite contest among fans out of all the contest held on All-Star Saturday Night. But while we’ve seen the big names stay away from the Slam Dunk contest in the past few years, there was a time when the best of the best weren’t afraid to brainstorm a little and come up with some astonishingly iconic slam dunks.
From Michael Jordan to Vince Carter and even Jason Richardson, let’s take a brief look back at the 10 best slam dunks we’ve ever seen in the Slam Dunk Contest.
Dubbed the “Everything” dunk by those who saw it, Jason Richardson showed off why the NBA Slam Dunk is what it is. Before we were jumping over cars or motorcycles, Richardson was busy combining all the great dunks that had preceded him into one massive explosion of force. He’s literally got everything here, from the lob off the court to the massive air, the on handed jam and the reverse angle of it all. To top everything off, Richardson passed himself the ball through his legs before dunking this final slam that won him his second consecutive Slam Dunk title. His career hardly took off like he used to be able to, but we’ll always have Richardson’s high flying between the legs jam to remember him by.
9. Andre Iguodala – “The Backboard Answer” (2006)
Had Nate Robinson been three inches taller we would be applauding former Sixers forward Andre Iguodala as the 2006 Slam Dunk champion. But because of the height difference and Robinson’s incredible hops, Iguodala will have to settle instead for just having one of the most incredible and memorable slam dunks in the history of the contest. Everything about this dunk is just so beautiful and it’s executed do perfectly. This is definitely one of the “next wave” of dunks where the complexity of the dunk was more important than anything else. It doesn’t get any harder than having to bounce the ball off the back of the backboard, catch it and then reverse jam the thing. Speaking of inches, Iguodala was so incredibly close to knocking himself out on the bottom of the backboard, but instead he knocked everyone watching out with a dunk that still makes jaws drop.
8. Dwight Howard – “Superman” (2008)
Sure, he was ripping off a classic dunk but back when we all adored Dwight Howard he managed to give us one of the more memorable dunks that truly put him on the scene as the best big man in the NBA (at least at the time). Donning the iconic Superman cape, Howard took off from just past the free throw line and proceeded to literally defy gravity. Howard didn’t technically dunk the ball but that’s part of what makes his jam so memorable and incredible. Howard was in the air long enough and high enough that he could spike the ball into the hoop rather than simply just dunk it. Was it cheating, absolutely as it’s not Howard’s fault nobody could get the kind of air he could. We all giggled when he put on the Superman cape, but our jaws dropped when we sae Hoawrd live up to the expectation of the cape he was wearing and then-some.
7. Dominique Wilkens – “The Backboard” (1988)
Today — and even when it happened– the backboard dunk really wasn’t anything mind blowingly innovative. But when Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkens left Earth and entered into orbit, we decided we cared less about the backboard element of the dunk and more about the fact that he had just seen Wilkens elevate higher than we ever thought a human being could. It’s not that Wilkens just jumped high, it’s that he jumped high enough to have likely dunked on a hoop that was mounted to the top of the backboard he had just thrown the ball off of. The ferocity of the dunk is another thing, as Wilkens put the slam into slam dunk, shaking the rim and throwing the ball down with authority. Wilkens doesn’t care if you’ve seen the dunk done before because he knew we had never seen it done like that before.
6. Vince Carter – “The Elbow” (2000)
It’s a shame the 1998-99 lockout shortened the season and cancelled the All-Star game and it’s festivities as surly rookie Vince Carter would have one the first of what could have ended up being back-to-back Slam Dunk Contest titles. While we all remember Carter’s iconic between the legs dunk from his 2000 Slam Dunk performance, this dunk tends to get pushed to the side and forgotten about. But while it seems to not have any complexity to it, Dominique Wilkens proved if you can make your dunk violent enough, no one is going to care. Carter elevated himself high enough to not just simply dunk the ball but to dunk his entire forearm. It looks like it was pretty painful, but it’s one of the best moments of Carter’s career. It’s incredible to think he only participated in one slam dunk contest, but he gave us more than our money’s worth in his sole performance.