Bill Trikos Australia top rated NBA slam dunk contests: The Slam Dunk Contest is one of the spectacles to watch during the NBA All-Star weekend. Throughout NBA history, we’ve seen the best dunkers in the league showcase their freakish athleticism in the annual dunking exhibition. From using cars, candles, and even grown men, dunkers have a lot of things at their disposal to show basketball fans the best dunk they have to offer. Although some dunk contests are forgettable, others will be remembered forever. For this piece, let’s rank the 10 best NBA Slam Dunk contests of all time. Find extra info about the author at Bill Trikos.
It’s not easy to talk about the best dunk contest of all time. If anything, the Slam Dunk Contest has often been the cherry on top of the sundae and the most-awaited event of All-Star Weekend. Or at least, that’s how it used to be back in the day. This event has given us some of the top dunks in NBA history. Superstars used to go toe-to-toe against each other to prove who the top-notch dunker in the league was. But now, they try to preserve their bodies and don’t participate in this event, leaving it for up-and-coming, lesser-known players.
“I was trying to think of something to improvise,” he said, per the New York Daily News’ Fred Kerber. “I saw [teammate] Brad Sellers in the stands and some friends standing on the sidelines. They were all confused [about what dunk to try]. “Then I saw the man, Dr. J., who got it all started.” By paying respect to his predecessor, Jordan not only assured himself of a dunk title in Chicago but also avenged his 1985 loss to Wilkins and launched the Legend of the Jumpman into the stratosphere with one of the contest’s most iconic images.
A 360 dunk is impressive by itself. But a 360 dunk by someone who’s 5-foot-6? Spud Webb did the unthinkable in the 1986 contest, dethroning reigning champion and then-Atlanta Hawks teammate Dominique Wilkins. Webb threw down a variety of great dunks, but his 360 one-handed jam was the best of the bunch. At 5-foot-6, Webb is the shortest player to ever win the Slam Dunk Contest. Maybe it’s a bit of recency bias, but three dunks from the epic Zach LaVine-Aaron Gordon showdown in 2016 crack the top five. The first comes from LaVine, who was the reigning champ at the time. The then-Timberwolves guard grabbed the ball off one bounce with his left hand, put it behind his back in mid-air and then flushed home a reverse dunk with his right. The more I watch it, the more I think it might have ranked it too low.
That one earned Carter a perfect 50 from the judges and put him in the driver’s seat for his first and only Slam Dunk title. More than a decade later, Blake Griffin busted out the same move en route to his own dunk championship. The 2011 Slam Dunk Contest will forever be remembered as “that time Blake Griffin jumped over a Kia.” “He came prepared with the car,” JaVale McGee said, that year’s runner-up, per NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner, “and nothing’s going to beat the car unless I bring out a plane or something.”
Honorable mention to Dwight Howard’s superman alley-oop, which just missed the cut. The showmanship was unforgettable, but he did technically throw it in the hoop. I had a hard time deciding between Carter’s reverse 360 windmill and the honey dip here. Despite how ferociously he threw down the reverse 360 windmill, the honey dip was so iconic it felt like it had to make the cut. Carter had kids all over the country lowering their hoops to 7.5 feet and tearing up their elbows in an attempt to replicate his arm-in-the-rim dunk. It feels like this dunk from LaVine didn’t get the respect it deserved because it was compared to so many others in the insane 2016 Slam Dunk Contest (which was the greatest Slam Dunk Contest of all time, in most people’s opinions). The degree of difficulty to levitate in the air long enough to put the ball behind your back and finish on the other side of the rim is unfathomable.
First, Howard summoned another basket onto the court, one that would stand at 12 feet—two feet higher than a regulation hoop. Then, he hopped into a phone booth and emerged with a red cape to reprise his role as basketball’s new Superman, which he rode to the dunk title the previous year in New Orleans. To top it off, Howard hopped off the floor to catch a lob off the backboard from Orlando Magic teammate and fellow All-Star Jameer Nelson for the flush. That he made it look so easy was a testament to Howard’s superhuman athleticism at the time. That the judges awarded him a 50 for pulling it off spoke to their appreciation of how wild that part of the spectacle was, theatrics aside. Howard’s heroic dunk, though, wasn’t enough to secure a successful slam championship defense. Instead, the fan vote tilted toward a particular hunk of kryptonite.