Wednesday 18th September 2019,
The Hoop Doctors

Junk Contest or Dunk Contest?

People have criticized the NBA All-Star Dunk Contest over the years for not having enough star power to captivate the world’s attention. With names like Darrell Armstrong, Jonathan Bender, and Chris Morris, the dunk contest hasn’t even captivated the attention of the basketball world.

Even with contestants like Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Shawn Kemp, and Dwight Howard, most of the dunk contestants are not people you are likely to find on the cover of a box of Wheaties, like Michael Jordan.

Kobe Bryant in the Dunk Contest:


Usually, dunk contestants are great jumpers like Kemp, Brent Barry, and Shannon Brown to name a few.

This year’s dunk contest featured such “stars” as the Utah Jazz’s Jeremy Evans, the L.A. Clippers’ Eric Bledsoe, Denver Nugget’s Kenneth Faried, Indiana Pacers’ Gerald Green, New York Knicks’ James White, and Toronto Raptors’ Terrence Ross.

Highlights from the 2013 Dunk Contest:


Fans of Dunk Contest lore often point to the 1985 Dunk Contest, among others. Everyone has a favorite. 1976—Dr. J’s free throw line dunk. 1986—Spud Webb besting Dominique Wilkins. 1988—Jordan v Wilkins.

The 1985 lineup featured legends of the game like Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler, Larry Nance, and Dominique Wilkins, and was one of the best examples of star power in the Dunk Contest.

Epic 1985 Dunk Contest:


Since those legendary dunk contests, the main criticism from fans has been the lack of superstar talent in the dunk contest.

This year, the league created a new problem: a lack of credibility in the judges.

The 2013 Dunk Contest was judged by NBA Hall of Famers Clyde Drexler, Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon, Rudy Tomjanovich, and Yao Ming. Clyde Drexler, a high-flier and dunker extraordinaire, was the only player there suited to judge a dunk contest. Yet, as great a dunker as Drexler was, he never won a dunk contest. So, they had five judges, none of whom had won a dunk contest and only one of whom ever participated in one.

There was a certain amount of symmetry with the Dunk Contest set in Houston, where Drexler and Olajuwon united to win the 1995 NBA championship.

But, the judges were chosen because they were all Houston Rockets legends, not because they were great dunkers.

Between Mutombo, Olajuwon, and Ming, it seemed like they should have been judging a Block or Rebound Contest, instead.

What happened to famous dunkers judging the dunk contest? Past judges include: Dr. J, Darryl Dawkins AKA “Chocolate Thunder,” and Dominique Wilkins, “The Human Highlight Film.” You know, some of the greatest dunkers of all-time.

Next year, the NBA has to think not only about which players will make the dunk contest fun for fans to watch, but which judges can bring clout back to this once epic All-Star event.

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