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Dominique Wilkins: I Should Have Beat Michael Jordan in 1988 NBA Dunk Contest

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Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2014

Michael Jordan has something that belongs to Dominique Wilkins—the 1988 Slam Dunk title. 

Speaking with Grantland's Bill Simmons (h/t NBC Sports' ProBasketballTalk), Wilkins admitted what many already knew: He was robbed. 

If you're feeling particularly spunky, Simmons' entire interview with Wilkins can be seen here, but it's Wilkins' thoughts on the dunk contest we're most concerned with.

The 1988 Slam Dunk competition has long been mired in controversy. It was held in Chicago and Jordan, the pride and joy of the Chicago Bulls, was given a perfect score of 50 for his dunk from the (not quite) free-throw line.

"Consistent judging all day until the last two dunks prior to this," one of the announcers said at the time.

Video footage from that dunk contest can be found below:

Plenty of people believed Wilkins should have won, one of them apparently being Jordan himself.

"He [Jordan] said 'Hey, you know, you probably won. You know it; I know it. But hey, you in Chicago. What can I tell you?' "

Wow. Just wow.

For Jordan himself to admit that, you know something fishy went on. Even Jerome Kersey, former Portland Trail Blazers forward and 1988 Slam Dunk competition participant knew something was up.

Said Kersey of Wilkins' final dunk to Lee Jenkins in a February 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated:

He was so high off the ground, with such power and grace, that all the players on the bench were saying, "Fifty." His first two dunks of the finals were 50s. But for some reason they gave him 45 on the last one. It was like, Are you kidding? How can that be? We just looked at one another on the bench and ducked our heads. The expression on Nique's face was, What do I have to do here?

Play for the Bulls, apparently. 

Truth told, are we really surprised this dunk contest played out the way it did? Of course not.

Going up against Jordan in Chicago, Wilkins was an airborne duck who didn't stand a chance. That competition was Jordan's to win and everyone else's to lose—no matter what.

Wilkins doesn't hold any grudges, though. He commended Jordan for his "freakish" dunking abilities to Simmons and seems to have taken everything in stride, noting that these types of exhibitions are more for the fans than they are players. 

"It could've went either way," Wilkins told Simmons, shrugging.

More than 25 years worth of closure probably helps incite that sort of gracious indifference.

 

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