Who an NBA Hologram Dunk Contest Would Have to Include

Sean Hojnacki@@TheRealHojnackiFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2013

They don't call him the "Human Highlight Film" for nothing.
They don't call him the "Human Highlight Film" for nothing.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

In the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Contest, Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz defeated Chase Budinger of the Houston Rockets.


Surely, the Slam Dunk Contest has fallen off in recent years. There was even the unfortunate "wheel" year of 2002 where contestants spun a wheel of destiny to dictate which dunk they would have to attempt.

It should also indicate that there's something wrong with the Slam Dunk Contest when 5'9" Nate Robinson is a three-time champion (sorry, Little Nate).

I want to see All-Stars dunk. I want to see LeBron James square off against Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin.

And I don't want to see a Kia commercial, Blake.

So what's the solution to the Slam Dunk Contest's waning allure?

It's simple. Bring back all the greats.

How? Well, just like they did with Tupac Shakur at Coachella 2012. All you need is an expensively developed, extremely accurate, NSFW hologram.

So how about hologram Michael Jordan vs. hologram Dominique Wilkins? Yes please!

There was certainly a heydey for the competition from 1985 to 1988, and Air Jordan vs. the Human Highlight Film was the marquee matchup. (Jordan missed the '86 contest and Wilkins missed the '87 contest due to injuries.)

ESPN has an excellent history of the competition here

But the concept of a Slam Dunk Contest didn't start in '85 with MJ and 'Nique. For that, we have to return to the nation's bicentennial.

The 1976 ABA dunk contest was won by Julius Erving. Who other than Dr. J could have started it? Artis Gilmore and George "The Iceman" Gervin also participated.


Dr. J essentially introduced the basketball world to the foul-line dunk that year (even if he did step over the line).

Only three years later, Darryl Dawkins was shattering backboards with regularity and the NBA was a fully-fledged, high-flying league.

But the NBA did not get into the slamming action in contest format until 1984. 

Somehow, Larry Nance took down Dr. J that year.

But the next year began a sensational era for the Slam Dunk Contest, as '85 was the first showdown between Jordan and Wilkins.

That year, MJ thrilled the crowd when he dunked from the foul line, but 'Nique had too much that year and took the crown.

After His Airness won the 1987 title with Wilkins injured, the 1988 competition became the ultimate knock down, drag out, slam dunk slug fest. That year's contest took place in Chicago, and Jordan defended his home turf in spectacular fashion.

But sandwiched in between Jordan and Wilkins' two showdowns, there was an epic battle between two teammates of very different proportions. 

In 1986 (with Jordan out due to injury), 'Nique came up against fellow Atlanta Hawk Spud Webb, and the 5'7" guard proceeded to defy gravity.

Apparently, Wilkins knew that Webb could dunk, but he didn't know he had hops like that. Webb inspired short guys everywhere with his performance in '86 and he took home the title.

After the thrilling period that was 1985-88, there were a few lackluster years from '89 to '93.

But 1994 gave us another competition to remember.

That year, Robert Pack and Shawn Kemp faced off against Isaiah "J.R." Rider in a truly epic competition. 

Kemp was renowned as one of the most vicious dunkers in the league (hence the nickname "Reign Man"), but Rider was unfazed. After some sensational slamming from Kemp, Rider confidently stated, "I'm not even done."

He then pulled off a ridiculous (at the time) between-the-legs dunk along the baseline, sealing his victory in the competition. As Charles Barkley said at the time, "That might be the best dunk I've ever seen. That was awesome."

And, of course, no list of great slam dunk artists would be complete without Vince Carter. In 2000, he squared off against fellow Toronto Raptor Tracy McGrady and the Houston Rockets' Steve Francis.

That year, teammates T-Mac and Carter assisted each other on their dunks despite being in direct competition. 

Carter, aka Air Canada, threw down a pair of huge 360-degree tomahawk slams, but him hanging by his elbow from the rim has to be the most memorable scene.

He also had a big two-handed slam from a couple of feet in front of the foul line and took that year's title.

With no disrespect to two-time winners Harold Miner (1993, 1995) and Jason Richardson (2002, 2003), or to the only three-time winner, Nate Robinson (2006, 2009, 2010), I think it's safe to say that Carter was the most spectacular dunker in the NBA since 'Nique.

Until Blake Griffin came along, that is.

After the Slam Dunk Contest in 2000, Carter gave basketball fans around the globe one of the most legendary slams of all time during the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Vinsanity threw down a dunk while also jumping clean over 7'2" French center Frédéric Weis. French media called it "le dunk de la mort," which means "the dunk of death."

All things considered, the dunk contest isn't about collecting the most athletic youngsters from around the NBA. It's about fans getting to watch name-brand stars soar to heights they've never seen before.

The dunk competition should be light-hearted and entertaining. It should show fans what the high-flying stars of the league can do when not entrenched in five-on-five battle on the court.

So if LeBron James persists in refusing to take part in the Slam Dunk Contest, and we have to watch end-of-the-bench guys like James "Flight" White compete against Jeremy Evans, they might as well just return to the glorious history the competition. 

So I say to you, tech wizards, get started on the ultimate Hologram Slam Dunk Contest of Dr. J, Air Jordan, the Human Highlight Film, Spud Webb, Reign Man, J.R. Rider, T-Mac and Vinsanity.

The results would be Vinsane. And this time, a Notorious B.I.G. hologram could provide the soundtrack. 



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