NBA All-Star Game 2012: Top 5 Dunk Contests of All Time

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2012

NBA All-Star Game 2012: Top 5 Dunk Contests of All Time

0 of 5

    We all know that the NBA's All-Star Weekend has seen its better days. People aren't captivated anymore by the lackluster Skills Competition, the repetitious Three-Point Contest or the much-maligned Slam Dunk Contest.

    Given the dunk contest's lack of star power in recent years (with the exception of Blake Griffin), the NBA is desperate for a slam-dunk revival—one that would help expand the popularity of a league that is constantly competing with Major League Baseball and the National Football League for viewers.

    With names like Chase Budinger, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Williams and Paul George competing in this year's contest, it's easy to see why the casual viewer has lost interest in this previously hyped event.

    So while the Slam Dunk Contest may be past its prime, we can still look back at the days when it flourished. 

    Here are five of the best dunk contests of all time.

2000 Slam Dunk Contest

1 of 5

    In perhaps the most memorable contest of the past 15 years, Vince Carter burst onto the scene as a heavy favorite to take home the crown. He would do just that.

    Despite fair competition from teammate Tracy McGrady and the surprising Steve Francis, Carter was on a totally different level on that day in Oakland.

    From the reverse 360 to the elbow in the rim and, of course, the bounce, between-the-legs dunk, Carter's performance solidified his spot as one of the top-five dunkers of all time.

1987 Slam Dunk Contest

2 of 5

    Without Michael Jordan, the Slam Dunk Contest would not be what it is today.

    Jordan's repertoire of dunks in '87 was so impressive that many of them are attempted in today's contests. However, these imitations do not possess the same grace and effortlessness that Jordan's originals did.

    It was in this contest that Jordan rocked the cradle and performed his absolutely breathtaking baseline slam, in which he seemed to glide on air—head even with the rim—like no one before him had ever done.

1988 Slam Dunk Contest

3 of 5

    A year after winning his first slam-dunk title, Jordan returned in '88 to defend his crown.

    After being defeated by Dominique Wilkins in 1985, Jordan was seeking to prove himself as the game's elite dunker once and for all.

    Competing in a field full of worthy competitors, including Clyde Drexler and Spud Webb, Jordan and Wilkins stood out from the pack.

    Perhaps Jordan's dunks in '88 were not as memorable as the ones from '87, but this contest will always be remembered for the epic duel between two Hall of Famers.

2003 Slam Dunk Contest

4 of 5

    My personal favorite, the 2003 Slam Dunk Contest was a display of up-and-comers—primarily Jason Richardson and Desmond Mason.

    The 2003 contest revived the once-dead competition and brought it back to life in a hurry.

    Richardson would end up being the victor, thanks to his final dunk attempt—a reverse, between-the-legs slam that sent everyone, including Kenny Smith (how shocking), into a state of shock.

    However, the competition Richardson received from Mason should not go without mention.

    Mason's left-handed between-the-legs dunk is perhaps one of the most skilled and flawlessly executed dunks in contest history.

    While Mason isn't typically remembered as one of the game's great dunkers, this contest would prove otherwise.

2006 Slam Dunk Contest

5 of 5

    The 2006 dunk contest showed us two things. First, it showed us that just when it looks like we've seen everything, a player can blow us away with a fresh burst of ingenuity. Second, and most unfortunately, it showed us just how rigged this contest can be.

    Andre Iguodala's acrobatic dunks—from his between-the-legs slam to his behind-the-back dunk and, most famously, his breathtaking behind-the-backboard slam—showed us one of the game's rising stars and most talented dunkers.

    On the other hand, Nate Robinson showed impressive hops for a player listed at a meager 5'9''. Unfortunately, it took Robinson 14 attempts to ultimately complete his final dunk. He was eventually crowned the champ, thanks to Kenny Smith, his biggest supporter from the judges' table.