The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is entering its 27th year of existence when All-Star Weekend rolls around this year in Houston. As the years have gone by, the dunkers have progressively gotten more and more athletic, making the dunks more complex and, at times, jaw-dropping.
After a while though, it seemed like almost every dunk that could physically be completed had been done by somebody along the way. Soon, contestants in the Slam Dunk Contest were forced to resort to props and gimmicks to spice up what had become somewhat of a stale event.
Some of these gimmicks have fallen completely flat, while others have actually been very innovative and entertaining. Although it would be amusing to take a look at some of the failures, let's stay on the positive side of the tracks and examine some of the best gimmicks in Slam Dunk Contest history.
Warning: You can only read the rest of this slide show after you have jumped over a Kia-brand vehicle.
It might be blasphemy to leave off Blake Griffin's dunk over the hood of a Kia Optima and Gerald Green's slam while blowing out the candle of a cupcake so before we get to the list, let me explain my reasoning.
First, let's go to Blake's leap over the car.
As impressive as it was that Griffin cleared the hood, caught the ball and jammed it home, I felt deceived at the end of it. When they brought out the Kia, I fully expected Blake to jump over the roof of the car and dunk it, not the lower portion of the car. After the dust had cleared and crowd went wild, I couldn't help but feel like the build up (slowly driving the car out on to the court, bringing out the choir, revealing Baron Davis inside the car) was actually better than the dunk itself.
Also, Baron Davis' career was never the same after acting as Griffin's assistant. It could've been all that "new car smell" he inhaled while waiting for Blake to take off.
In regards to Green's cupcake dunk, I was very close to putting it on this list. But like the Griffin dunk, I felt that the setup and the replay were more exciting than the actual dunk. Plus, I'm not a big fan of pink frosting. I'm more of a chocolate guy.
By no means am I trying to knock the difficulty or the creativity these two gentlemen displayed, but they just missed the cut in favor of a few that I thought really stood apart from the rest.
Although the premise of this dunk sounds fairly simple (slapping a sticker onto the backboard while completing the dunk), the actual preparation and execution was anything but that.
First of all, it can't be easy to find a place that is willing to create a sticker of your face flashing a huge, cheesy smile (believe me, I've tried). I understand Dwight Howard is an NBA superstar, but still, being able to hunt one of these places down isn't exactly like locating a Pizza Hut.
Now on to the actual execution of the dunk. In my brief experience dunking on 7-foot rims, it's extremely difficult to complete the simplest of dunks. To have to focus on completing another task at the same time is completely mind-boggling.
For this particular slam, Howard was essentially multitasking, as he has to catch the ball from Jameer Nelson, slap the top of the glass to place his face-sticker and then jam the ball. Throw in the added showmanship at the end of Nelson measuring just how high Howard jumped, and you have the makings of a very creative and unique dunk.
Unfortunately, the judges low-balled Dwight on this one, giving it a pedestrian score of 42.
Don't worry—you'll see more from Mr. Howard coming up.
Believe it or not, JaVale McGee is actually known for more than appearing on countless NBA blooper reels.
Apparently, JaVale thought dunking one ball was no longer in style, so he upped the ante and not only brought an extra ball into the fray, but also an extra hoop as well.
The appeal of this dunk seemed to decrease with every failed attempt, but when he did actually complete it, it was still very, very impressive.
Even with his height and Inspector Gadget-like arms, this was an extremely difficult dunk for McGee to pull off. I was a little disappointed he didn't try and take it to the next level by dunking two more balls with his feet though.
That may have gotten the contest's first ever 60 score.
During the early stages of the Slam Dunk Contest, there weren't props or even a whole lot of showmanship involved. The Jordans and Dominiques of the world would simply just throw it down, amaze and repeat (which wasn't necessarily a bad thing).
In 1991, Dee Brown showed a little flash and took the opportunity to make a name for himself as well as Reebok when he "pumped up" his shoes before taking off for his dunk.
It was the closest a shoe company has ever come to actually delivering on what they claim their footwear actually does—in this case, make you jump higher as a result of the air pumped into your shoes.
I'm sure there was a plethora of kids out on the basketball courts that next week pumping away on their freshly purchased Reebok's only to be severely disappointed with their own results.
Nate Robinson may have required the help of his opponent to take home the slam dunk title in 2009, but that doesn't take away from the creativity and athleticism he displayed that night.
Using Dwight Howard's "Superman" persona against him, Robinson decked himself out in a green Knicks jersey and Kryptonite-colored shoes. From there, he proceeded to jump over Howard and throw down a vicious one-handed flush.
Nate may not have completely cleared Howard when he jumped, but the symbolism of Kryptonite defeating Superman was enough to leave a lasting impression for many years to come.
There is some debate on whether this dunk was actually a dunk because Howard didn't actually make contact with the rim upon completion—essentially, he threw the ball through the hoop. However, if you look at how high Dwight is above the rim when he throws the ball through, that alone should be enough to classify it as a real dunk.
The actual dunk aside, what made this so memorable was everything leading up to it and everything after it.
First, Jameer Nelson reveals the red cape, giving everyone a clue of what is about to transpire. Then Howard reveals the Superman logo underneath his jersey, which then drives the likes of Damon Jones and Dikembe Mutombo absolutely insane. At this point, D12 has everyone watching firmly in the palm of his hand.
He follows these theatrics by flying through the air, catching Nelson's alley-oop pass over the backboard and easily tossing it through the basket with about the same force as Jor-El's son himself.
Howard added icing on the cake by taking a victory "flight" around the court, backed by the Superman theme song.
It doesn't get much more entertaining than that.