A fan favorite highlight of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend since 1984, the Slam Dunk Contest allows the league’s top players to show off their showstopping slam-dunk skills on an empty court. Here are some notable highlights of Slam Dunk Contests of yore.
That year’s contest saw a remarkable achievement. Atlanta Hawks guard Spud Webb defeated NBA superstar, teammate, and ’85 contest champion Dominique Wilkins to win the whole thing. It’s notable because Webb was only 5’7” tall—far lower than the NBA standard. He’s one of the shortest players in league history, and by far the shortest Slam Dunk Contest winner.
The two finalists in the contest were previous winner Dominique Wilkins, and some guy from the Chicago Bulls named Michael Jordan. Jordan won his second consecutive Slam Dunk Contest, but not without some controversy. Dunks in the contest are given a score of up to 50 points by a panel of judges. While Wilkins put in some great dunks, he only earned a 45 on his third and final attempt, while Jordan got a perfect 50. It may have had something to do with the fact that the 1988 All-Star festivities were being held in Chicago, and that two of the judges were ex-Chicago Bears star Gale Sayers and NBA star and Chicago native Tom Hawkins.
Darrell Armstrong of the Orlando Magic was invited to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest for the first time…and what would turn out to be the only time, based on his performance. He missed almost every single dunk attempt, and on his last shot, he couldn’t even get all the way up to the hoop. Armstrong misjudged his jump and wound up doing a lay-up instead.
Participants in the contest have taken it to the next level with a blindfolded dunk round. This year, Baron Davis of the Charlotte Hornets accepted the challenge, and unable to see, took a ball straight to the hoop…and missed. He didn’t even know he’d missed until after he was done and removed his blindfold.