Taking to the skies
In a close contest between young high-flyers, Hamidou Diallo knocked off Dennis Smith Jr. to secure the 2019 NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest. What had the crowd buzzing, however, was his stunning dunk in the first round, where he leapt over the 7-foot-1 Shaquille O’Neal before placing his right elbow into the basket on the finish. This spectacular dunk had pundits and fans debating its place among the greatest dunk contests of all time.
Jordan vs ‘Nique: Before Nate-Dwight and before Lavine-Gordon, there was the original slam dunk duel that captured an entire generation – Michael Jordan vs Dominique Wilkins. Wilkins triumphed over Jordan in the 1985 edition of the competition with a flurry of windmills and double pump jams, but Jordan had his revenge in 1988 with not one, but two free-throw line dunks.
2000: For many NBA fans, the year 2000 brings to mind Vince Carter and the modern incarnation of the dunk contest. There was hardly any competitor, as ‘Vinsanity’ destroyed the field with a series of heart-pumping slams. He opened the contest with a 360-degree reverse windmill, and promptly declared, “It’s over!” The contest may have been over, but the contemporary era of dunks had just begun.
Spud and Nate: Spud Webb and Nate Robinson are the shortest winners of the contest of all-time, and climbed over some giants of the game to reach this milestone. Webb defeated the superstar duel of Jordan and his teammate Dominique Wilkins, as well as his brother Gerald. For Robinson, he became the only three-time winner in the history of the contest, with his most memorable win being in 2009 where he knocked off defending champion Dwight Howard by soaring over him for the jam.
Lavine vs Gordon: These two youngsters proved that the Slam Dunk Contest was in good hands as the older generation of superstars passed the torch to their juniors, putting on a show for the ages. Their duel showcased Aaron Gordon’s power and creativity as he hit a series of never-before-seen dunks with ferocity, but Zach Lavine’s grace and unreal hops were simply too much to handle as he hit a record five perfect 50s with his six dunks as he finished just one point short of a perfect score.