If Michael Jordan's 63-point eruption against the Boston Celtics in 1986 made him a superstar, then his face-off against Dominique Wilkins in the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest sent him into a new stratosphere of popularity.
Jordan and Wilkins put on a show for the ages. Wilkins beat Jordan in 1985, but Jordan won the contest in 1987 and looked to repeat as the champion, while also getting revenge against his arch-rival.
The execution from both men was flawless throughout all rounds, but particularly in the final. Jordan and Wilkins converted every attempt as if they were in their sleep.
Here is how the championship showdown went in the final:
Wilkins First Attempt: Wilkins threw himself a self-pass high off the backboard and threw down a thunderous slam.
Jordan First Attempt: Jordan responded by delivering a two-handed double-clutch reverse jam.
Wilkins Second Attempt: Wilkins ran up the baseline and exploded into the air with a powerful windmill that rattled the rim and even got the Chicago fans cheering.
Jordan Second Attempt: Jordan started at half-court and sprinted up the right-side where he finished another two-handed slam.
Wilkins Third Attempt: Once again, Wilkins threw down a ferocious slam, but the creativity did not impress the judges enough to award him a 50.
Jordan's Legacy-Defining Dunk: With the contest hanging in the balance, MJ saved his best for last. He sprinted full court and went into his jump from the free throw line. Jordan palmed the ball in his right hand and capped off his gravity-defying slam in winning fashion.
This dunk immediately sent shock waves throughout the NBA landscape. It has been emulated thousands of times, and even earned a memorable revival in the finale of the 1996 classic "Space Jam, " which Jordan starred in.