The Best Prop and Gimmick Dunks in Slam Dunk History
Look, I don't know what your opinion is of NBA All-Star Weekend, but my personal take is that it's phenomenal.
Sure, I can do without all the celebrity games and the lack of intensity until the fourth quarter in the All-Star Game itself, but the events leading up to that Sunday night tip is what makes fans go bananas.
And based off the title of this article, I'm sure you know exactly what I'm specifically talking about: the Slam Dunk Contest.
While there are a few guys who us fans have always wanted to see take part—ahem, LeBron James—the guys who have participated have given us some incredible moments. Ones that a 5'8" guy like myself could only hope to do—without cranking a hoop down to seven feet.
So I'm taking a look back at some of the best prop or gimmick slams that we've ever seen from the dunk contest, which hopefully inspire a whole new generation of dunkers to try duplicating and perfecting in the coming years.
Gerald Green Blows out the Candle (2008)
I'm not trying to discount anything about this slam by Gerald Green by mentioning it first on my list—because, as I said before, I can only dream of doing something like this.
I give him plenty of creative points for busting out a cupcake. But it would have been better had he taken a bite out of the sweet treat—as impossible as that might be—rather than blowing hard from beneath the rim.
Larry Nance Goes Double Time (1984)
You know I just had to give it up to the original dunk champ Larry Nance, right?
Winning the first dunk contest back in 1984, Nance busted out two basketballs and incorporated throwing both of them down in one single dunk.
Sure, there were other ones that may have ultimately won him the trophy, but he had to use other forms of creativity to knockoff legendary slammer Julius Erving.
Dee Brown Pumps Up the Volume (1991)
OK, so a guy pumping up his shoes might not technically constitute as a prop like some of the other ones I'll remind you of on this list.
But before Dee Brown did this simple little stunt, there weren't any gimmicks that participants really ever used. They simply used just pure athleticism and high-soaring theatrics to win the contest.
For being the original hype man in getting the crowd excited to see what he was about to do, Dee Brown has to get mentioned here.
Josh Smith Throws It Back (2005)
It wasn't as if Josh Smith's dunk was anything that had never been seen before. It's that he busted out the old school Dominique Wilkins jersey and duplicated the former dunk champion's two-handed windmill—with a slight adjustment.
Jumping from even further out than 'Nique did, Smith's slam isn't as easy as some may have initially thought it was.
Dwight Howard's Theatrical Trailer (2009)
Although he may be behaving himself now that he's found a permanent home with the Houston Rockets, in the past, most fans are aware of the drama that Dwight Howard has had.
And while most of us can probably agree it was a bit too much, this dunk that featured more props than a Hollywood set is something that was worth it.
The dunk might not have been overly spectacular—well, except the fact he slammed on a 12-foot hoop. But, like others on this list, it's how he played the role of hype man that served him best.
Gerald Green Covers His Eyes (2007)
If there were any questions surrounding the dunking ability of Gerald Green, he put those all to rest during his performance in the 2007 dunk contest.
Using a variety of slams to help him win the whole shebang that year, Green first paid homage to the aforementioned Dee Brown by covering his eyes and slamming one home—all while leaping over Nate Robinson.
Then he wrapped up his title by leaping over a table with a full windmill, bringing the house down.
Amar'e Stoudemire "Heads" Toward the Rim (2005)
Most sports fans know that Steve Nash is a big lover of soccer.
So what better way to let him show off some of his skills than in a dunk contest, right?
At least that was the idea of former teammate Amar'e Stoudemire in 2005 when he utilized Nash's heading skills to execute an incredible dunk.
The perfect pass off the board, the right amount of strength from the former MVP Nash and the intensity with which Stoudemire dunked the ball is just amazing.
Gerald Green Climbs the Ladder (2008)
As you've probably caught onto, if there's one thing that Gerald Green has done well during his moments in the dunk contest, it's using props quite well.
This dunk that incorporated his teammate Rashad McCants sitting atop a ladder to hand him a ball to slam home is unique and impressive—especially seeing how high he got—earning it a 45 from the judges.
Dwight Howard Is Superman (2008)
To all you basketball purists out there who argue that this can't be counted as a dunk because he never actually hit the rim should hush up and enjoy the damn thing.
Yes, Dwight Howard is nearly seven-feet tall and has an advantage over most dunk contest competitors. And yes, the whole cape thing might be a bit cheesy.
Still, seeing someone as big as Dwight have the athleticism of a guy half a foot shorter is remarkable.
Cedric Ceballos Is Blinded by the Light (1992)
Go ahead and put a blindfold over your face and try walking in a straight line.
It's pretty tough, isn't it?
Now take that feeling and add the daunting task of having to dunk a basketball through a hoop as Cedric Ceballos did back in 1992.
The slam may have been a "simple" two-hander, but the level of difficulty was increased mightily since that year's champion couldn't see a damn thing.
This one is just a classic and hasn't been duplicated since.
Nate Robinson Is the Perfect Kryptonite (2009)
Nate Robinson is just about my height—5'9"—so seeing him leap over a guy like Dwight Howard who is nearly seven feet is just remarkable.
Sure, Nate may have used a hand to help vault himself to clear the big man, but I'm not deducting any points from the difficulty of his slam.
Apparently, neither did the fans, as Robinson landed 52 percent of the fan vote—which led him to his second-straight dunk contest victory—proving that the all-green outfit really was Kryptonite for Howard's Superman act.
JaVale McGee Has Double the Fun (2011)
I know that JaVale McGee is over seven-feet tall, but doing what he was able to do by slamming down two basketballs into separate hoops is impressive nevertheless.
Making this even more difficult is that the big man tossed and caught one of the balls off a backboard, catching it mid-air and still maintaining enough concentration to put them both through the rim.
McGee might do and say some ridiculous things a lot of the time, but he sure knows how to throw it down.
Serge Ibaka Is Un-Bear-Ably High (2011)
How does a guy show just how high he can leap while in a dunk contest?
Rather than waiting for fans to see a replay and notice if a dude's head is above the rim or not, why not just use a prop that's just about rim level to prove it?
Well, that's exactly what Oklahoma Thunder forward Serge Ibaka did in 2011, rescuing a young kid's stuffed animal from hanging off the rim and grabbing it with his teeth while dunking.
Perfectly executing something like this has to be damn near impossible, with Ibaka having to make sure he can both jump high enough to snatch the bear, as well as get close enough to the rim to grab it with his teeth.
Blake Griffin Revs the Engine (2011)
It's not just the leap over the car that's impressive.
It's seeing how Blake Griffin caught a pass from former teammate Baron Davis who was sitting inside of the ride, tossing the ball up through the sunroof.
Griffin is one of the best dunkers—if not the best—in the league today, so he knows that the slam dunk contest is a spectacle worth hiring a choir for.
Vince Carter's McGreat Dunk (2000)
While there's extreme difficulty in taking a ball and dunking it after going through the legs, it's even harder when another person is responsible for the perfect pass.
So when Vince Carter used his teammate Tracy McGrady to flush this one down, I specifically remember jumping out of my seat as if I were one of the thousands in the stands.
I'm not sure if another person is technically described as a prop, but, hell, I'm the one writing this thing up so I'm saying it counts.