The Sportz Nutt Takes A Look At Slam Dunk History

Share

Did you just see that?!?!?! Holy crap, the 2016 NBA Dunk Contest was one of epic proportions. I mean, the drama, the athleticism, the overtime! Was it the best of all-time? Some people like to live in the past, as nostalgia is a powerful and dangerous characteristic. Some people like to live in the present, forgetting about the things that brought us to where we are and to mutter some ridiculous statements. Let’s try to look at things as objectively as possible, shall we?

The following 3 dunk contests (with top performer(s)) have been regarded as the greatest of all-time:

1987

Michael Jordan from just inside the free throw line highlighted this one, as the name of Michael Jordan was just taking off. This was definitely a historic dunk, and one that put the NBA and its brand on the map of society. The height he reached on his “Kiss the Rim” was incredible as well.

2000

Vince Carter. The launch of Vin-Sanity started here, and never looked back. When he was on the court that night, he showed true confidence, determination and a look that told the world he wanted to show everyone what he was capable of doing. Each and every one of his dunks were innovative, powerful representative of what was to come for the future. What else was impressive was the height of Steve Francis’ firs dunk, as well as Tracy McGrady’s dunks as well. In any other year, those two men probably could have won the contest.

1988

Drexler, Kersey, Jordan, Wilkins. All four men put on a show, and it was the final round, between the two heavyweights, Jordan and Wilkins, that stole the show and etched this as a timeless piece of basketball history. Back and forth they went and Jordan had the comeback win as he flew from the free throw line again.

Where does this year’s contest fit into these three? Let’s categorize and rank with a points system. 4 points for first, all the way to 1 point for fourth.

Participants

1988 – 4
2000 – 3
1987 – 2
2016 – 1

I am going strictly off the name basis here, giving the slight edge to the ’88 contest. I’m also giving it to them, as there was never any doubt as to which one competitor was the focal point of 2000, but it was a back and forth battle between the greatest of all-time in ’88. The present day competitors aren’t well known by much of the NBA audience.

Innovation

2000 – 4
2016 – 3
1987 – 2
1988 – 1

This was a tough one to rank. I gave 2000 first because of the ferocity of which Carter’s dunks were completed. He also used the back of the net and alleyoops like not many others, as well as sticking his arm in the rim. Here’s where some might argue with me. While 1987 had some pretty amazing dunks, as stated above, as well as Wilkins’ dunks, I was blown away by Aaron Gordon’s dunks, which included the the one where he elevated BOTH legs over top of the mascot. I didn’t think that was humanly possible, and I was dead wrong. LaVine also took an alleyoop from the free throw line, which I haven’t seen often, if ever.

Drama

1988 – 4
2016 – 3
1987 – 2
2000 – 1

This ranking is purely based out of respect for the greats. That’s not to say I am punishing the present day players for being born 25 years too late, but rather, at the time, the NBA needed a go to guy to hang onto for the future, Jordan was becoming that guy. This was their year, and the Dunk Contest solidified him as the the great one, surpassing yet another legend in his path. The contest from 2016 gets a close second place because it went into overtime, again and again, and realistically COULD have been a tie.

Collaborative Dunks

2000 – 4
1988 – 3
2016 – 2
1987 – 1

This goes to the entire field, and looking at all of the dunks attempted and made. As a whole, I am still impressed with the collaborative efforts from 2000. The rest of the field gets overshadowed by how dominant Vince Carter really was. ’88 gets second for the first round, plus the back and forth action in the finals, despite some retreads from years previous. It’s a toss up for third, but I gave it to this year’s contest, simply because there were more dunks as it went into overtime.

Athleticism

2016 – 4
2000 – 3
1988 – 2
1987 – 1

This is where things balance out from the above grouping under ‘Participants’, because the athleticism and conditioning of today’s athletes is vastly superior to the past. So much work on health, bodily functions, the core and its strength, have all made today’s athletes super freaks compared to those in the past. What Aaron Gordon did with his body is simply amazing, hands down. All four guys, including a 6’11″ center in Andre Drummond, are so physically gifted.

Best Dunk

2016 – 4
2000 – 3
1987 – 2
1988 – 1

I hate to say it, merely hours after it happened, but I think Aaron Gordon’s dunk over the mascot, in a seated position, is THE new standard of excellence. I still don’t know how he did it. It seemed impossible that anyone could do that with TWO legs, as for years we had only seen it done with one. Which brings us to 2000, where Vince set the standard for the one legged windmill. Jordan from the free throw line is amazing too. Overall, Gordon takes this category.

Overall

2000 – 18
2016 – 17
1988 – 15
1987 – 10

I still give the 2000 Contest the greatest, even though it wasn’t a contest, BUT, Aaron Gordon’s dunk(s) set the standard.

That being said, I reserve the right to elevate or lower the 2016 contest after more time passes, but I do forsee it being a timeless exhibition of basketball greatness.

And there you have it.