The big names were not in the 2019 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, but that didn't mean the fans in Charlotte, North Carolina, didn't get to see a major show Saturday.
Hamidou Diallo of the Oklahoma City Thunder earned the victory, and while he took down Dennis Smith Jr. of the New York Knicks in the championship round, it was his second first-round dunk that was the highlight of the contest.
Diallo called out Shaquille O'Neal to assist him, and he leaped over the big man, dunked the ball and then hooked his arm through the rim up to his elbow. He hung there for a moment and then revealed a Superman shirt underneath his uniform shirt.
Miles Bridges of the hometown Charlotte Hornets finished third, while John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks had to settle for fourth place.
Diallo's Shaq leap was a sensational moment, but the overall Slam Dunk Contest was no better than a grade of B.
We will rank this Slam Dunk Contest somewhere between 10 and 15 of the 34 that have been contested to this point.
When it comes to ranking the all-time greatest dunk shows, it's hard to get past some of the best the NBA has had to offer since the league's first contest in 1984.
That dunk contest in Denver was won by Larry Nance of the Phoenix Suns, and it was an impressive show by the long-legged leaper.
However, the all-time greatest dunk contest was the one that spawned the NBA's version of the event. It was the American Basketball Association's 1976 version of the event, which also took place in Denver. That one featured the league's most famous and perhaps greatest player in Julius "Dr. J" Erving against David Thompson of the Denver Nuggets.
Thompson had made his reputation as a brilliant college player at NC State, and he continued to develop at the pro level. Erving and Thompson took turns wowing the crowd, and the event was not decided until Dr. J took off from the free-throw line and completed his flying-through-the-air maneuver.
After Nance's first triumph made the slam dunk competition an NBA All-Star staple, the next four Slam Dunk Contests were quite remarkable. They were won by Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb, Michael Jordan, and Jordan repeated the following year.
The 1988 title won by Jordan featured a remarkable head-to-head battle with Wilkins. Jordan's triumph came at Chicago Stadium, and there have long been whispers that Wilkins should have been given the title for his performance and that Jordan got the hometown decision.
Wilkins would earn his second dunk crown with his triumph in 1990.
Webb's title in 1986 was remarkable in itself. The 5'6" guard left the crowd with its jaw agape because the tiny star was able to outshine the taller timber he faced in the competition.
After the brilliant displays by Jordan, Wilkins and Webb, the next truly memorable performances would come from the spectacular and athletic Kobe Bryant in 1997, as he evoked memories of a cross between Dr. J and Jordan, and he had the fans screaming their approval in Cleveland's Gund Arena.
Vinsanity took over in 2000 when Vince Carter put on a show in the Arena in Oakland, California. Carter is one of the great dunkers the game has ever seen, and if Dr. J, Jordan or Wilkins rank as the best, Carter is right on their heels. That trio would have to be at their absolute best to get by Carter if all of the competitors were in their prime.
Dwight Howard put on a memorable show at the 2008 All-Star Game when he donned a Superman costume and dunked like the man of steel.
Blake Griffin made his attempt to rank with the all-time greats when he took a running jump over a car and brought home one of the most memorable dunks in NBA history.
Top five dunk contests
1. Dr. J wins ABA dunk title in 1976
2. Jordan outduels 'Nique in 1988
3. Little man Webb shocks the works and wins in 1986
4. Vinsanity steals the show in 2000
5. Griffin flies over a car and dunks it on down in 2011