Top 10 NBA Dunk Contest Debuts

By: 02.24.12  •  10 Comments

Four first-time dunkers are competing in the All-Star Weekend Dunk Contest this year, and they’ve got 28 years of history to live up to when it comes to dramatic dunk debuts.

Chase Budinger, Derrick Williams, Paul George and Jeremy Evans take part in Saturday night’s Sprite Slam Dunk Contest in Orlando, where they’ll be chasing the precedent of the best dunkers in their first contest. From Spud to Kobe to J.R. and Jordan, we bring you the top 10 of those moments here.

Kobe Bryant, 1997
A year before he’d tangle one-one-one with Michael Jordan in the actual All-Star game, Bryant showed what the world what Lower Merion High opponents were seeing the years before. Bonus points for the between the legs off one foot and the two-foot slam where he brought it to his hips. The color commentator that year did have a word of warning, however: “You hope he doesn’t have the slam dunk winner curse after this.” No problem there.
Subscribe to UPROXX

Page 2

Isaiah Rider, 1994
From the baseline J.R. went between the legs, one-upping Orlando Woodbridge from a decade earlier and stealing the dunk contest on his first try. It was literally, to Charles Barkley at least, an “Oh my god” moment. On the color commentary Chuck thought this of Rider’s winning slam: “That might be the best dunk I’ve ever seen.”

Page 3

Dee Brown, 1991
No-look city. Brown was the first to win and never compete again after covering his eyes for his final dunk. He’d already beaten Shawn Kemp — a vicious throwdown assassin in his own right — but decided to up the ante one last time.

Page 4

Blake Griffin, 2011
He had the hometown crowd behind him, Kenny Smith in his corner playing the ultimate hype man and a Kia sitting in the paint. Add it up and Griffin pulled off the most theatrical, if not the best on pure dunking, All-Star debut. An L.A. production, through and through.

Page 5

Cedric Ceballos, 1992
How do you top Dee Brown’s no-look? Put on a blindfold, obviously. One of the father’s of theatricality in the dunk contest took off from half-court with a blindfold. Points are taken away, just like with Brown, for pulling out the risky dunk once he’d already had the title won, but it’s still impressive.

Page 6

Nate Robinson, 2006
A winner in his first try, fan favorite Nate knew how to set up his clinching dunk perfectly. His entry was a return to the short-men-can-fly era of Spudd Webb before him, so naturally he brought the contest full circle in Houston by jumping over Webb with plenty of air to spare.

Page 7

Jason Richardson, 2002
Kenny the Jet saw flashes of Dominique in the man from Michigan State’s debut win. He’d win in 2003, too, but 2002 featured three dunks that were purely power.

Page 8

Michael Jordan, 1985
Before his wins in 1987 and ’88, His Airness ripped off a right-hand cradle reverse (2:30 on the second video) and his first free-throw line dunk in his loss to Dominique Wilkins. Unlike his free-throw in ’88, he doesn’t double-pump on the Jumpman, free-throw dunk, not that it was any less impressive for the then 22-year-old MJ.

Around The Web


DJ Jazzy Jeff Talks World Tour With Will Smith, Culture of DJing, And Academy Awards Boycotts

Follow These Eight Travelers On Snapchat And They’ll Show You The World

Nikki Glaser On Her New Series ‘Not Safe With Nikki Glaser’ And Being A ‘Curious Perv’

From Showman To Shaman: How An Assassination Attempt Changed Bob Marley’s Life And Music

From Zero To Guitar Hero, Meet The Small-Town Musician Who’s Well On His Way

Hannibal Buress On ‘Comedy Camisado,’ Animation, And Doing Stand-Up In Japan

Phil Matarese And Mike Luciano Talk ‘Animals.’ And Creating Television In Their Apartment

‘Black Sheep’ Revisited: The Farley-Spade Classic That Could’ve Been, 20 Years Later

EAT THIS CITY: Chef Callie Speer Shares Her ‘Can’t Miss’ Food Experiences In Austin, Texas

Kimbo Slice Is Down To Fight Kurt Angle And Roy Jones, Jr. As Soon As He Settles His Business At Bellator 149

By:  •  3 Comments

A Top Recruit Michigan Landed On Signing Day Isn’t Who You Think He Is At All

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. On How His Personal Ancestry Obsessions Led To ‘Finding Your Roots’