Freeman Cebu Sports

This year’s Slam Dud

NBA BUZZ - Bobby Motus - The Freeman

Prior to the NBA, there was the American Basketball Association (ABA) which had the first (and last) Slam Dunk competition at its All-Star Game in 1976 at Denver. Later that year, the ABA merged with the NBA and the dunk contest was scrapped. 1976 was the also the year when the US NCAA legalized the dunk during games.

Julius Erving won over David Thompson, the original Skywalker, in the first-ever Slam Dunk. When it was reintroduced in 1984, Larry Nance, Sr., palming two balls and stuffing them one after the other, outpointed Erving.  The succeeding years saw power dunkers Clyde Drexler and Dominique Wilkins. 

Michael Jordan, gliding towards the rim with tongue hanging out, is the only contest participant to earn a perfect score of 50 seven times in three appearances. His aerial jamming creativity are memorable. Those were the days when the contest was much anticipated.

And there was Shawn Kemp, he who had the hangtime and the power to posterize anyone - small, big and tall. The Reign Man participated in the contest at least three times but his tomahawk dunks were not enough to convince the judges.

Yes, sub-six footers competed and won like Spud Webb (5-7) and Nate Robinson (5-9). Then came the likes of high-flying stars Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Steve Francis and later Blake Griffin, a power dunker during his prime, who jumped over the hood of a Kia car.

Lebron James never participated in a Slam Dunk contest.  Had he done so, with his explosiveness and strong upper body, he would have won some. LBJ is perhaps this era’s most powerful dunker.

Later editions of the contest were so-so when in 2016, Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon raised the bar and perhaps made it the new standard for future dunk competitions. Their battle was entertaining and will surely be among the classics.

For all its worth, hammering a ball thru a hoop in Timberlands is in itself an accomplishment. These urban work boots are heavy on the feet and jumping in them takes good effort. Would have been better had Cole Anthony made it on the first attempt.

With all due respect to the participants, stale would be the most forgiving word to say on last Sunday’s Slam Dunk contest. It was a dud.


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