5. Jason Richardson – “Backboard Up-and-Under” (2003)
Richardson may not have had a legendary career, but he’ll go down as one of the best Slam Dunk Contest participants in the history of the contest. Not only did Richardson give us the “Everything” dunk, but he gave us this gem without a doubt tops whatever nostalgic qualities that dunk had and replaces it with sheer ridiculousness. Richardson uses the old backboard trick but he combines it with the between the legs move to create one of the most iconic dunks ever to have been performed. Timing is everything in this dunk and Richardson has it nailed down, from the throw to the backboard bounce to being able to perfectly time putting the ball through his legs and into the hoop. Some people think his dunk from earlier in this list was his best, but it’s hard to top with everything that needed to go right.
4. Cedric Ceballos – “The Blindfold” (1992)
Newer NBA fans probably haven’t heard of Cedric Ceballos but he played the part of entertainer perfectly during the 1992 Slam Dunk Contest in Orlando. There’s still some debate to this day as to how thick that blindfold really is, but beyond that this dunk is incredible if for nothing other than creativity. Today, complex dunks are common place in the contest with some players attempting to dunk multiple balls at the same time or leaping cars and motorcycles. But back in 1992 the creativity had yet to become widespread and Ceballos helped usher in a new era for the contest. The premise of the dunk is simple: whenever someone makes a routine of something you say they can do it blindfolded. Ceballos took that literally and did the dunk blindfold and he did it perfectly. To this day it’s still one of the best remembered dunks ever in the contest.
Again, it’s a tragedy that the 1998-99 lockout shortened the season and robbed us of what would have undoubtedly been Vince Carter’s first of back-to-back slam dunk titles, but the bigger tragedy is that we only saw Vin-sanity grace one single contest. But while we only saw Carter participate in one contest, he gave us more than enough memories, one of which was the in-betweener that gave birth to Vin-sanity. Usually when guys do between the legs dunks, it’s a rushed and jarring ordeal but Carter got so much air and executed the dunk so gracefully that he seems to almost float on a cloud just long enough to make the dunk flawless. It’s not rushed, it’s not jarring, it’s beautiful and makes us wonder what could have been had Carter agreed to participate in another dunk contest. But part of the magic of this dunk is that we never saw Carter grace us with his presence in a dunk contest again, and it’s truly the lasting image of perhaps the greatest Slam Dunk contest champion of All-Time.
2. Spud Webb – “The Bounce” (1986)
Spud Webb is a hero to short people everywhere. Before Nate Robinson was winning back-to-back Slam Dunk Contests, Spud Webb was paving the way in a literal David vs. Goliath showdown. The 5-foot-7 Webb entered the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest in Dallas the obvious underdog to Atlanta’s giant Dominique Wilkens. But while Wilkens turned in a nice performance, Webb stole the show by proving to the world that height does not make a dunk artist who he is. Webb bounced the ball higher than he could actually jump, caught the ball and kept going up, up and up until he hit the rim. The timing was perfect, his leap and upward trajectory were spot on and the dunk literally won one for the little guy. Webb took home the trophy in 1986 thanks to this dunk and we are forever left with the image of a man leaping into the air with all his might and dunking a ball that should never have been dunked.