The NBA Dunk Contest has been a show-stopping staple of All-Star Weekend since 1984, when Larry Nance toppled slam masters Julius Erving, Darrell Griffith, Clyde Drexler and Dominique Wilkins in the inaugural competition.
For more than 35 seasons, the dunk contest has undergone many changes – some good and some hard to digest. Such as …
a) No eventual dunk champion should be allowed to register double-digit missed attempts in the same round.
b) NBA fans could do without the slam dunk shot clock.
c) The 1997 dunk contest in Cleveland (the only one I’ve seen in person) might have been the worst showcase of, uh, dunking talent. Ever.
However, through it all, we still press on, in search of the picture–perfect dunk – if such a thing exists.
BATSBY Sports offers its YouTube-friendly picks for the 15 most iconic slams in dunk contest history, an NBA-focused countdown that comes with one caveat:
There’s a three-dunk limit, per competitor … otherwise known as The Zach LaVine Rule.
NOTE: Technically, Dr. J didn’t make this countdown (it’s hard to be an elite dunker in your mid-30s). However, it would be utterly foolish here, if we didn’t recognize two special occurrences:
The greatest dunk in ABA All-Star Game history, circa 1976 (below).
The single greatest in-game dunk in NBA playoff history. Bar none.
MOST ICONIC JAMS IN NBA DUNK CONTEST HISTORY
#15 – AMARE STOUDEMIRE
MOVE: SOCCER-STYLE ASSIST FROM STEVE NASH
#14 – STEVIE FRANCIS
MOVE: HALF-COURT ALLEY-OOP THROWDOWN
#13 – SPUD WEBB
MOVE: SELF-ALLEY OOP THROWDOWN
#12 – CEDRIC CEBALLOS
MOVE: THE BLINDFOLD DUNK
#11 – ERIC BLEDSOE
MOVE: TWO-HANDED 180 WINDMILL
#10 – DOMINIQUE WILKINS
MOVE: THE CLASSIC WINDMILL THROWDOWN
#9 – VINCE CARTER
MOVE: THE REVERSE WINDMILL THROWDOWN
#8 – AARON GORDON
#7 – ZACH LAVINE
MOVE: FREE THROW LINE ALLEY-OOP
#6 – DWIGHT HOWARD
MOVE: DON’T TUG ON SUPERMAN’S CAPE
#5 – ANDRE IGUODALA
MOVE: BASELINE-BACKBOARD EXPLOSION
#4 – ZACH LAVINE
MOVE: THE SPACE JAM THROWDOWN
#3 – MICHAEL JORDAN
MOVE: DOUBLE-CLUTCH FLYING/FREE-THROW LINE EXTENDED
#2 – ZACH LAVINE
MOVE: MODERN SPIN ON MJ’S ICONIC DUNK
#1 – MICHAEL JORDAN
MOVE: KISS THE RIM