Last week, I gave you the 10 worst players to win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, so now we'll give respect to the 10 best.
I even had to make a change, as it turned out that Larry Nance is much more deserving of this list and Nate Robinson must join the worst. I suppose that I deducted too much for Nance's lackluster performance in the contest itself.
Now that that has been straightened out, we have a clearer picture of the 20 previous winners of the dunk contest. Half of them were solid players with respectable careers, and half of the...not so much.
Maybe next year LeBron James will add his name to this list and we won't have to watch Nate Rob jump over a previous winner to grab another title. Maybe John Wall will bring back the spirit of the contest. Maybe Shaq will quit talking and make us all laugh with a well played and comical performance.
As the 2010 NBA Slam Dunk Contest approaches on Feb. 13, we get ready to watch Shannon Brown, Nate Robinson, Gerald Wallace,and some other guy (DeMar DeRozan and Eric Gordan will compete for the spot on the 12th) face off. Until then, let's look at some of the NBA's best superstars who have mesmerized fans with their dunking ability.
Teams: Virginia Squires (ABA), New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers
Nickname: Dr. J
Winning Dunk: Free-Throw Line Slam
Career Stats: 24.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.0 steals, 1,7 blocks
Notes: Dr. J won the first Slam Dunk Contest ever in his ABA days. Almost single-handedly causing the NBA/ABA merger, Erving went down as one of the 50 greatest players ever. He has won championships, MVP honors, and numerous All-Star appearances in both leagues. Truly, one of the greatest to ever play the game.
Teams: Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers
Nicknames: Plastic Man, The High-Ayatolla of Slamola
Winning Dunk: Rock-A-Bye Cradle Dunk
Career Stats: 17.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.9 steals, 2.2 blocks
Notes: Larry Nance was a 3-time NBA All-Star and was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team First Team in 1989. In fact, his consistent play was probably more spectacular than his winning performance in the first NBA Slam Dunk Competition.
Larry moved on from basketball to drag racing in the International Hot Rod Association. Not the typical career progression.
Teams: Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic
Nickname: 'Nique, The Human Highlight Film
Winning Dunk: Two-Hand Windmill Tomahawk Jam
Career Stats: 24.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.6 blocks
Notes: One of the most prolific scorers ever, Wilkins has earned a spot in the NBA Hall of Fame. His younger brother, Gerald, also played in the NBA. 'Nique never won an NBA Title but did win a Euroleague Championship in 1996. He won the 1994 FIBA World Championship gold medal.
Teams: Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic
Nickname: Spud (real name: Anthony)
Winning Dunk: 180 Reverse Two-Handed Jam (from a lob bounce off the floor)
Career Stats 9.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.1 blocks:
Notes: Webb's stats don't tell the full story because Spud was only 5'7", at best. This didn't stop him from winning the dunk title, despite not even being able to palm the ball. Webb was used as a prop in Nate Robinson's 2006 Slam Dunk Contest victory when Nate jumped over Spud to dunk.
Teams: Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards
Nickname: Air Jordan, MJ
Winning Dunk: Free-Throw Line Pump Jam
Career Stats: 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 0.8 blocks
Notes: The greatest NBA Player of all-time, 'nuff said.
Teams: Los Angeles Lakers
Nickname: Black Mamba
Winning Dunk: Between the Legs Dunk
Career Stats: 25.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.6 blocks
Notes: Kobe Bryant is the son of Joe "Jellybean" Bryant and nephew of "Chubby" Cox (I swear I didn't make that up). Kobe has achieved more than most NBA players and isn't done yet.
Kobe beat a rape charge and never stopped playing. He is currently portrayed by a ridiculous puppet in commercials.
Teams: Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic
Nickname: Half-Man/Half-Amazing, Vinsanity, VC
Winning Dunk: Honey Dip Tomahawk Jam
Career Stats: 23.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks
Notes: Though the numbers look impressive, Carter never quite made good on his potential ability. He did, however, put on the greatest performance in a Slam dunk contest, hands down. The show he put on in 2000 upped the ante for years to came. Vince is a third-cousin of Tracy McGrady. Carter is currently looking for a ring with the Orlando Magic.
Teams: Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Bobcats, Phoenix Suns
Winning Dunk: Self-Pass 360 Windmill Pump Dunk, Reverse Between the Legs Dunk
Career Stats: 18.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.5 blocks
Notes: Jason Richardson would have been the first player to win three (consecutive) Slam Dunk titles had he landed a dunk in the finals of the 2004 contest.
Fred Jones eventually won that year, despite missing all of his attempts in the finals as well. Jason once wrote a letter of apology to the Bay area for missing the playoffs and defeated the No. 1 seed Dallas Mavericks the following season to move on to the second round.
Teams: Atlanta Hawks
Winning Dunk: Windmill Tomahawk Jam (in a Dominique Wilkins throwback jersey)
Career Stats: 14.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 2.8 blocks
Notes: Josh Smith was born in the College Park area of Atlanta, where he played AAU ball with the Atlanta Celtics alongside Dwight Howard. Smith will become the youngest player to reach 1000 blocks (likely Feb. 2 against the Oklahoma City Thunder) by nearly a year.
Teams: Orlando Magic
Nicknames: Superman, Howard the Dunk
Winning Dunk: Superman Jam
Career Stats: 17.3 points, 12.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.9 steals, 2.1 blocks
Notes: Dwight Howard looked odd when he was drafted first overall on 2004, largely due to the braces still on his teeth. Howard has outgrown the braces to become the youngest player to teach 5,000 rebounds.
He won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics. Howard led the Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009. He was also used as a prop for Nate Robinson in his 2009 slam dunk contest win.