The 3 Most Memorable NBA Slam Dunk Contest Performances

NBA | March 1, 2021


Whether it’s TNT’s Kenny Smith getting fans pumped up, NBA superstars looking like wide eyed children sitting courtside, or young athletic phenoms bringing out props to increase the hype, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest has something for everyone to get excited about.

It’ll look a little different than it has in years past, but the creativity, athleticism and drama of All-Star weekend’s showcase event will be on full display this Sunday. Reportedly, Knicks forward Obi Toppin, Pacers guard Cassius Stanley, and Blazers guard Anfernee Simons will participate in this year’s contest.

As we lead up to the festivities on Sunday, let’s look back at the three most memorable performances in Slam Dunk Contest history.

Nate Robinson

Via Nate Robinson is one of the most exciting participants the Slam Dunk Contest has ever had.

There’s just something really cool about watching shorter players soar through the air to throw it down in the Dunk Contest. Standing at 5’9” on a good day, Nate Robinson took home the title three separate times in his illustrious slam dunking career. But there’s nothing like bringing home the trophy for the first time, so we’ll take a closer look at his first appearance in 2006.

One of Robinson’s most memorable dunks that night paid homage to a vertically challenged player from yesteryear who paved the way for him. 1986 Slam Dunk Champion Spud Webb stood in the paint and delivered a perfect pass to the ascending Robinson who jumped over him and finished with an emphatic jam.

Zach Lavine

Via Zach Lavine had incredibly impressive Slam Dunk Contest performances as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Having had his reputation bolstered by countless Youtube videos and his championship performance in the 2015 Slam Dunk Contest, Zach Lavine already came into the 2016 competition with elevated expectations. It seemed like there wasn’t anything else he could possibly do for an encore.

Enter in Aaron Gordon, who would challenge Lavine to take his act to another level. Gordon had a phenomenal performance in the 2016 event, but Lavine was slightly better in the eyes of the judges. The Timberwolves guard caught an alley-oop taking off from the free throw line, and brought the ball behind his back while rising towards the rim before his strong punctuation at the rim. He consistently brought the house down in Toronto that night, and stamped himself as one of the dunking greats as a back to back Dunk Content winner.

Vince Carter

Via Vince Carter’s masterpiece in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest may never be topped.

There is probably an unwritten rule somewhere on the Internet that dunk contests and Vince Carter must be mentioned in the same sentence at least once per article. Carter’s standout performance in the 2000 edition of the event in Oakland very well may never be topped in the eyes of NBA enthusiasts.

Bringing a combination of hangtime, power and grace seldom ever seen, Carter blew away the competition with array of perfectly executed slams. In his last dunk of the first round, the Raptors dynamo snared the ball off a bounce pass from teammate Tracy McGrady that he put between his legs and forced down with authority. Carter then upped the ante by sticking his entire arm in the rim on his next dunk, which is a moment etched in the memory of fans everywhere.

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Andrew Pistone

Andrew has been an avid NBA/NFL fan for 25 years and counting! He's a Sports media junkie as well, always hoping Gus Johnson or Kevin Harlan will call the game he is about to watch.

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