The NBA’s All-Star weekend has returned and with it the Slam Dunk Contest, which seemingly gets more theatrical and outrageous with each passing year.
Taking to the court this year are the Indiana Pacers’ Victor Oladipo, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Larry Nance Jr, the Dallas Mavericks’ Dennis Smith Jr and the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell.
But before they attempt to enter the Slam Dunk Contest’s hall of fame, we take a look at the top blasts from the past …
1. Vince Carter’s Vinsanity
Half-Man, Half-Amazing lived up to his nickname in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest by putting on an absolute show at the Oakland Coliseum. Carter had a number of jaw-dropping slams that night, but the best of the best was his unbelievable 360 windmill. Not only was the combination of a 360 degree turn and windmill ridiculous, but Carter did it from the left side as a right-hander. Vinsanity indeed.
2. Aaron Gordon’s Stuff
It’s hard to imagine what Gordon pulled off, let alone execute it. In 2016, the Orlando Magic phenom jumped over Stuff, the Magic mascot, while grabbing the ball out of his hands, putting it under both legs and flushing with his off-hand. The human body isn’t supposed to do that. And he still lost to Zach LaVine.
3. Zach LaVine from distance
You thought Michael Jordan’s free throw line dunk was cool? LaVine somehow went one better in 2016 by adding a windmill from the same distance. And this wasn’t one of those cheap free throw line dunks where the step comes well after the line either. Remarkable athleticism by a highflyer who was born to dunk.
4. Michael Jordan takes flight
When it comes to iconic dunks, there’s a reason why His Airness is at the top of the list. Sure, Julius Erving, did it first, but MJ built upon Dr J’s free throw line slam in 1988 by adding his own style and form. The run-up, the jump, the pump, the extension and the finish – all of it picture-perfect and leaving a lasting image.
5. Jason Richardson goes between the legs
Of the three dunk contests Jason Richardson took part in, his best slam arguably came in the one year he didn’t win. In 2004, Richardson unleashed this throw-down – an off-the-glass lob into a through-the-legs finish. And he made it look easy. If ever there was an automatic 50 for the judges to hand out…
6. Andre Iguodala’s hang time
Though somewhat forgotten because Iguodala would lose to Nate Robinson in 2006, this dunk has aged well. It featured Allen Iverson tossing an alley off the glass from behind the backboard and Iguodala catching it, ducking both his head and the ball and staying in the air long enough to finish on the other side.
7. DeMar DeRozan reverses it
He’s now a complete player and one of the best scorers in the league, but DeRozan was known for his bounce early on in his career. And in 2011 he showed what he was capable of by delivering this mind-blowing reverse windmill, with a hint of rocking the cradle. The unorthodox nature of the slam took it to another level.
8. JaVale McGee doubles down
McGee’s 2011 slam may not have jumped off the page in the moment, but its level of difficulty is underrated. Not only did McGee manage to dunk two basketballs in different hoops, he threw the one in his right hand off the glass. The concentration and wingspan needed to pull this off is off the charts.
9. Carter’s honey dip
Carter’s 2000 showing was so awe-inspiring, it features twice on this list. While his other slams that night immediately brought the crowd to their feet, his famous elbow-through-the-rim dunk took a few moments to sink in as the crowd saw on the what happened on replay. Carter managed to leave the arena speechless.
10. Gerald Green blows out the candle
In 2008, Green gave us a slam that mixed equal parts athleticism, creativity and absurdity with his birthday cake dunk. Even though it wasn’t anyone’s birthday and the cake in question was actually a cupcake, the fact that Green could get his head on level with the rim to blow out the candle was impressive.
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