I Watch Every NBA Slam Dunk Contest, 1995-2009

Monday, February 10, 2014

Part 3 of a series.  Part 2 is here.


Tony Dumas’s nickname is apparently The Rocket. 

Yes, a Tony Dumas reference is how we're starting this installment.    

’95 smartly set up a showdown between the previous two winners, Harold Miner and JR Rider – first round is a 90 second “program” where you can dunk multiple times and get one score, Doug Collins says the dunkers who bounce the ball don’t get high scores.  Bob Neal says it’s like a skating program – so look for a lot of references to Schindler’s List.  

Tim Perry does a lot of bending at the waist in a lethargic performance, “He done” Charles tells us.

“Here’s Jamie Watson’s appearance on national television” – Neal.
“The stars have a tendency to bring a little more energy” – Collins.

Watson, a non-star, does a great up and under one hand and gets jobbed by the judges, presumably for a lack of energy. 

“Tony Dumas has been practicing a dunk, he’s kept it secret, he only told me” – Neal, with curious pride.

More body language/energy bullshit.  The announce table is super amped up about Dumas and the great energy he’ll bring.  He misses every single attempt and sits.  Body language was great though. Like the anti-Eli.

No one’s called Miner Baby Jordan yet.  Collins promises “sweet dunks”.  

Collins dismisses Miner, “here’s another one of those bounce dunks” right before a great two handed slam – 

Neal calls on Barkley sitting in Millionaire’s Row, he doesn’t respond.  Chuck enjoys All-Star Weekend. 

Collins likes Antonio Harvey’s energy.  He only makes two dunks and gets eliminated.

Gary Payton has one #20 earring.  Rider is now Isaiah, by the way.  That should solve all of his issues going forward.

60 second routine here in the finals.  Watson only gets one dunk and is out. 

Here’s the showdown:

Rider couldn’t hit his baseline dunk and it weirdly deflated his score; I guess Miner’s routine was better, fewer misses – Rider’s one armed dunk in the finals was the best dunk overall.


Clyde Drexler didn’t kill any of his kids, right?  That’s something I’m remembering weirdly.

Doug Christie’s in this competition until his wife comes to get him in the middle of his routine. 

Dave Cowens is a judge.  Let’s roll the spectacular dunks from his career.

Dick Stockton is your lead announcer.  Looks like same rules – 90 second program, you need to hit 3 dunks.  Brent Barry hits the statue of liberty – he probably doesn't need it, but then he does the foul line dunk, Barry hits 4 dunks in round one.  Barry gets jobbed, only 45 points, despite doing both the Erving and the Stansbury. 

Darrell Armstrong was a Spanish League All Star last year – Shaq’s in a t-shirt, apparently this is the point in the decade where we lose the Arsenio suits.  Christie tries to kick the ball over his head.  Grant Hill pulled out with injury. Shocking.

Michael Finley has a really good 90 seconds, hits the ‘Nique one armed dunk from the side.  Stockton calls Brent his brother’s name.  Greg Minor is the third in the finals.  They changed the finals, this isn’t a routine, just two dunks.  Everyone misses the first dunk.  No one complains about the ball bounce dunks.  Sad.  

Finley bounces the ball, windmills.  Nice.  Barry does the foul line again to win the competition.  It’s the best dunk of an okayish night – he brings up his legs after the jump for a good aerial. Brent complains to Sager they wouldn’t let him play his music.  Apple doesn't far from the tree.

They killed off the dunks for the rest of the decade after this contest.  Let’s take a look.

Lisa Leslie becomes first ever lady dunk judge, says Bob Neal.  Martina sits at home angrily.

KG is yelling at Chris Carr, KG’s a pain in the ass.  They took away the clock this year.  Can’t imagine that will lead to issues.  Darvin Ham turns toward the basket – Darvin Ham turns toward the basket, he turns the wrong way – there will not be a better dunk all night.  Best dunk since ’94.  Best day of Darvin Ham's life.  Darvin went ham all over that dunk.  

We got Hall of Famers – Ray Allen's here.  God damn, did you people see that Darvin Ham dunk?  He only got a 35, that’s bananas.  Kobe’s here.  18 year old rookie.  Fans chanting Kobe. Warrior fans eagerly await the appearance of Todd Fuller.  Reggie Theus says Bobby Sura has to show him something.  Sounds somewhat threatening. Finley’s one arm from the baseline is the second best dunk so far – it was a far better round that either the judges or the announces gave credit for.  Darvin Ham is bounced – such a good dunk.

Kobe’s first dunk in the finals goes between the legs, it’s terrific.  Neal calls them “dunksters”.  Finley misses a cartwheel dunk.  Kobe’s the winner, had the second best dunk.

Best five dunks – 1990s:
1. JR Rider 1994, finals
2. Harold Miner 1993, finals
3. Darvin Ham, 1997 round one
4. Harold Miner 1993, first round
5. Kobe Bryant, 1997 finals


From Oakland. 

It begins again.

TMac opens with the dreaded bounce dunk, and he nails it, two hands.

Electronic scoring as opposed to the cards – a “jumpmeter” to measure how high each contestant jumps (privileging the smaller dunkers?) is debuted.

VC says he has four brand new dunks.  Dude called his shot.  Round One - Reverse 360.  Like the Ham dunk but all the way around and with power.  Might be the best contest dunk to that date (sorry to the sportswriters who think the dunk contest should have stopped with MJ)

Stackhouse has a terrific dunk.  Doesn’t matter this year. 

Kenny Smith, announcing from the judges table, wants to see more backup point guards used to feed the dunkers.  Class consciousness from the Jet.

TMac just rips through a second power dunk in round two, like Kemp.  Stevie Francis is the best little man dunker to date, like Spud with real hops.  Pick any little man year, Webb/Brown – anyone you want, Francis is much, much better.
VC comes from behind the backboard with tremendous athleticism.  Sure is a ton of athletic brilliance – combinations of speed and power.  Just pure, raw athletic explosion.  Sort of reminiscent of McGwire in that home run derby.  Wait a minute…

TMac kills round 3.  Then VC goes between the legs.  I think I prefer the round 1 dunk, but this was a full on topping of JR Rider.  VC isn’t just putting on the best contest performance ever, he’s burning the print.
TMac has a terrific power night, like a consistent Kemp.  VC puts his arm through the hoop for his fourth dunk.

VC 1, VC3, SF2 – those are your 3 best dunks of the night.


Hey, it’s Marv. 

Finally, we get a graphic for each judge’s score. 

Corey Maggette does a front flip.  It’s Finley’s cartwheel come to life.

Jonathan Bender hits a foul line dunk with the left hand, but the hangover from the year before just casts too big a shadow. 

In all honesty I haven’t even thought about it.  Yeah, I get those urges.  Right now, I can’t say that I will. That’s  MJ, giving 3 different answers to the question of returning to play in one breath.

Mike Fratello reasonably asks if Baron Davis should get extra credit for a video camera held by David Wesley.  Apparently he did, only Danny Ainge gave him a 9, the rest were tens.  Kenny’s back with his complaint from the year before “I would use Travis Best to be my passer.”

Desmond Mason catches Rashard Lewis, who reasonably covered his face, in a leap over.  Ainge correctly notes that it was better than Davis’s dunk despite the rest of the scoring.  Ashton Kutcher gave DeShawn Stevenson a 10.  Who would know a dime better than Ashton?

Mason hits a one armed power shot in the finals.  He’s going to win, so this might be the most lackluster contest yet. 


The format here is one on one challenges, Mason, the champ taking on JRich to start.

Richardson hits a powerful 360 to open it up.  The internet gets a vote, as the dunks get crowd sourced.
The announcers can maybe be heard in the arena, there’s reverb. 

Now it’s spin the wheel, make the deal.  Tweaks!

JRich kills Nique’s tomahawk dunk to bounce Mason.

Gerald Wallace and Stevie Francis is the other matchup.  Third year in a row, Kenny wants to see better passers for the teammate dunks “Chris Webber?  Why not get Mike Bibby out here?”

Wallace does an okay version of the foul line dunk, JRich can’t do it at all.  Wallace needs just a 43 to win, does a version of VC’s arm through the hoop that is okayish.  JRich needs a 45, he loses the handle on the first dunk but gets it again.  He hits a reverse with two hands and wins it.

JRich 4, JRich 1, JRich 2.  That’s the night.


Magic says we’ve been missing guys who can fly in the slam dunk contest. 

The contestants are JRich, who won a year ago.  DMason, who won two years ago and was in the previous year’s contest and Richard Jefferson and Amare.  What the hell is Magic talking about?

Magic says Spud was the best little man dunker ever.  Nope.  Francis.

Barkley’s lost his voice.  Loves him some All Star Weekend.

Barkley says guys have already done every dunk possible.

MJ is wearing a beret.

JRich is the new Nique – if VC is a better Jordan JRich is a better Nique. He hits two violent dunks to take on Mason, again, this time in the finals. VC and JRich are the two greatest contest dunkers of all time. 

DMason does that VC adaptation of JR Rider’s dunk,  but does it backward.  Best dunk of the year.  Best dunk since VC’s first dunk. 

Magic says it’s the first time he’s seen the crowd react in the five years of coming here – VC was three years ago. 

JRich needs a 49 to win.

He goes between the legs with his back to the basket. 

The last two dunks – never been done. done. 

JRich 4, DM – 3,  It’s Richardson’s best dunk yet. The announce tells us the dunks are back!


No one has won 3 dunk contests. 

All Lakers at the judge’s table.  Kareem, Magic, Nixon, Wilkes, Worthy.

Mike and Tom Eat Snacks is in attendance. Barkley says Kareem should have an NBA job, Magic agrees.

Nicholson likes Birdman Andersen’s hair. 

JRich adds an off glass component to his between the legs repertoire.  It’s his new second best dunk.

JRich misses his final dunk and loses to Fred Jones.

JRich 4 2003, JRich 1 2004, JRich 4 – 2002

Top Five dunks – First half of the decade
1.       VC 1st dunk, 2000
2.       JRich 4th dunk 2003
3.       Mason 3rd dunk, 2003
4.       JRich 1st dunk, 2004
5.       VC 3rd dunk, 2000


Magic picks JR Smith, then of the Hornets.  Then of New Orleans.  He hits Young Ewing’s college behind the back dunk –not as good, but still it’s awesome.  10.

Barkley picked Josh Smith.  Hits the foul line dunk, he’s furthest below of any of the recent contestants.

This is the year Birdman, still without all the tattoos, missed a hundred dunks. All but one edited out.  That should have been the whole half hour package, just Andersen missing dunks, then getting tattoos, then downloading child porn.

Josh Smith hits a jump over the teammate dunk with the left hand.  Sweeeeet.

Amare hits Nash’s header dunk.  Magic yells, the dunk contest is back.

JSmith then hits a ‘Nique dunk wearing a Nique jersey.  Take out the misses and it’s a heckuva show.

30 minutes.  Everything should just be 30 minutes.  All games, award shows, graduation ceremonies – if none of your obligations were longer than 30 minutes the quality of your life improves wildly. 

Amare hits a nice backward between the legs dunk that is hurt by the misses.

Josh Smith’s 4th dunk is the best, rotation left hand – terrific. 

 Josh4, JR1, Josh 2, Josh 3


Let’s see if L’il Nate deserved this one.

JSmith hits the best foul line dunk since Barry.

Iguodala from under the basket, almost hitting his head on the back of the backboard.  Magic says it’s a slam dunk contest again.  Finally!

Nate’s second is better than his first.

Iguodala’s first finals dunk is the second best dunk.  There’s an albino in the house. 

Nate jumps over Spud – he’s been good, not close to Iguodala.

Barkley gets it right that Iguodala was better – but it’s a dunk off, first time ever.

Iguodala’s between the legs backward dunk is also really good.  Moses gives Nate a dunkoff  8, which is right. His dunks are all better than Nate’s. 

AI 1, AI 4, AI3


Time limits.
Barkley says Danny Ainge has turned the Celtics into the Clippers.  Anything was not possible in 2007.

Gerald Green off the pass from Pierce is strong. 

Dwight Howard hits a monster one arm.  Green’s was better.

Little Nate’s a Knick now, hits his best ever contest dunk – I’ll say that’s a better dunk than Green’s. 

Barkley calls him a midget.

Tyrus Thomas’s second dunk goes over a teammate, with a left hand, tearing down the net – it’s the new best dunk of the night despite getting no interest from judges. 

Kenny says he didn’t sell it enough, which is true, but shouldn’t impact the announcers if they recognize it.  

They’re discussing who the best dunker is – no mention of Richardson, they hit Erving, Nique, Jordan, and VC. 

Howard does the sticker dunk.  Judges totally screw him.  Best dunk of night. Announce table correctly unfolds into an understanding of how good the dunk was.  Nate’s second is almost as good as his first, he’s far better this year.  Announcers correctly still talking about Howard, that’s not a bad measure of a good dunk, sometimes evolution takes awhile to appreciate.

Magic wants to say the dunks are back – but recalls he said that last year, so he says he really means it this year.

Green does the arm over the face dunk while jumping over Nate.  New second best dunk.

Lots of good dunks in 07.

Howard doesn’t make it to finals.

DH2, GG2, TT2  That’s the list. 

Nate takes 10 attempts to make his second finals dunk. 

Green brings out a table and the announce is uncertain if props are allowed.  The excitement is back, Magic says.


Jamario Moon has splashed on the NBA scene Kevin Harlan tells us.

Howard does his behind the backboard dunk. 

Magic says remember when we said it was back – it’s back right now.

Gerald Green hits the cupcake dunk.  Awesome. My favorite of the prop dunks to this date

Howard does the Superman dunk.  Shaq begins killing him; six years later, he hasn’t stopped.

Not as good as the sticker.  Third best of night.

Green through the legs, power dunk, super.  Howard hits the punch dunk in the finals – he’s just hitting Green hard – that’s better than the Superman. Better than the sticker. 

Kenny says Howard has two of the five best dunks ever.  Green hits a dunk without shoes, which is madness.  Green’s killing it. 

GG1, DH3, DH1, DH2

Green is monster underrated. 

Magic says dunks get better and better. 


JR Smith returns, what’s the longest time between contest appearances?

Rudy Martin was the first Spanish player in NBA, he died in car accident and his jersey’s worn by Rudy Fernandez – but no one told the announcers so they clown him “Martin from the show Martin?” says Reggie.  Production had the graphic ready, so it wasn’t a surprise – and when they put it up it’s the most awkward moment in contest history.

Reggie says if Lebron wants to get to the next level he’s got to be in the contest.

Nope.  No, he does not. 

Howard brings out the phone booth. Hits 12 foot dunk.

Kenny announces LeBron is entering the 2010 contest.  Looking forward to those highlights.  Must have been great.

Howard throws it off the side – dunk of the night.

Reggie – “look how hard it is” – then everyone grunts. 

Nate jumps over Howard.

We’ve got Obama as President we finally got Lebron James in the dunk contest – Reggie. No.  No we don’t.

A good, not great night. Nate robs Howard. The best decade ever, by a large, large margin, for the dunk contest comes to an end.  

Best five dunks of second half of decade.
1.       Green – cupcake ‘08
2.       Howard – the punch ‘08
3.       Howard – sticker ‘07
4.       Green – Dee Brown jumping over Nate ‘07

5.       Howard – behind the backboard – ‘08

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