Great Dunks from the NBA slam dunk contest!

The Slam Dunk Contest is an annual National Basketball Association (NBA) competition held during the NBA All-Star Weekend. The contest was inaugurated by the American Basketball Association (ABA) at its All-Star Game in 1976 in Denver, just as the slam dunk was legalized in the NCAA. It enabled players to showcase their dunking skills and try to “out-dunk” each other. However, this contest would be short-lived as the ABA merged the following year with the NBA. Realizing the popularity of slam dunks, the NBA soon created a contest of its own, which made its first appearance in 1984. The contest currently uses fan voting, via text-messaging, to determine the winner.The very first slam dunk contest was won by Julius Erving at the 1976 ABA All-Star Game. The current champion of the NBA Dunk Contest is Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic.2000sAfter a two season layoff, the NBA decided to bring the contest back for the 2000 All-Star Weekend in Oakland, CA. It would prove to be one of the most electrifying dunk contests in the league’s history, featuring a great showdown between eventual winner Vince Carter, his cousin Tracy McGrady, and Steve Francis (Carter won after performing a number of very impressive dunks, including a reverse 360 windmill, honey dip, and a between-the-legs dunk off of a bounced alley-oop). However, the next four contests did not feature superstars like Carter and Bryant, and again there was talk that perhaps the contest should be eliminated. The main argument was that players could not really come up with any more dunks that people had never seen before, despite arguably innovative efforts by Jason Richardson in 2003 and 2004. The lack of A-list superstars willing to participate also hurt the appeal of the contest to fans.In 2005, the Slam Dunk Contest returned to its birthplace in Denver and was reborn. With the spectacular dunks of that year’s contest, there was buzz that the dunk competition could regain the popularity it had in the 1980s. Amare Stoudemire alley-ooping 360 off a soccer-style header from teammate Steve Nash; J.R. Smith putting it around his back and dunking, and the new champion, Josh Smith alley-ooping over Kenyon Martin all wowed the crowd with their maneuvers. With the change in the rules requiring an additional teammate starting in the second round, they proved that there were indeed many dunks that people had not done before. Stoudemire and J.R. Smith showed off original dunks that they had spent much time working on. Josh Smith received rave reviews when he did a tribute dunk to Dominique Wilkins while donning Wilkins’ jersey. Smith’s top dunk, arguably one of the best in recent history, shows him hovering over a seated Kenyon Martin as he glides through the air to the basket.Again in 2006, the Dunk Contest in Houston, Texas revitalized the interests of audiences as 5’9″ Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks took the title with a great dunk-off. One of his most exciting dunks was a high-flying dunk over former Slam Dunk Contest winner, 5’7″ Spud Webb. The 2006 Slam Dunk Contest was also the first Dunk Contest in history to have a “Dunk Off”, the equivalent to a Dunk Contest overtime, between Knicks point guard Nate Robinson and shooting guard Andre Iguodala of the Philadelphia 76ers. Many fans argue that Iguodala should have won the contest, one of the reasons being that Robinson needed seventeen attempts before finally completing his dunk. Iguodala also pulled off a dunk where he started out of bounds from the right side of the baseline. Teammate Allen Iverson bounced the ball off the back of the right side of the backboard, then Iguodala caught the ball in mid-air behind the backboard, whirled around to the other side while ducking his head (to avoid colliding with the backboard) and dunked it with his right hand.On February 17, 2007, the contest was held in Las Vegas. Judges for the event were all past winners: Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Kobe Bryant, Julius Erving, and Vince Carter. The title was taken by the Boston Celtics’ Gerald Green, who, among other dunks, jumped over reigning champ Nate Robinson while covering his face – a homage to 1991 winner, Dee Brown, whose jersey Green had worn. He also scored a perfect fifty with his last slam, a windmill over a table. Other noteworthy dunks include a dunk by Orlando Magic forward Dwight Howard, who, while making his dunk, stuck a sticker with his smiling face and his favorite verse from the bible on the backboard a reported 12’6″ from the ground, two and a half feet beyond the regulation NBA rim.

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