I love the NBA All-Star Weekend (in Toronto this year)…from the festivities on Friday and Saturday, to the game on Sunday, I love everything about this particular weekend. Back in the day, there were no Friday night events and the slam dunk contest and three-point contest actually took place on Saturday afternoon. In fact, as a kid, I can remember getting home from my YMCA basketball games and sitting down and watching both of these events live. It is probably that early love of basketball, that has hooked me to this notable weekend ever since. Now, let’s look back at some of the more memorable NBA All-Star Weekends…
While usually not as exciting (until recently) as the slam dunk contest, it has always been a nice little appetizer. In the beginning of the three-point contest, it was simply Larry Bird and Craig Hodges. Through the years, no one has owned the event like Bird and Hodges (although Mark Price, Jeff Hornacek, Peja Stojaković, and Jason Kapono each have had back-to-back wins)…maybe now is the time for Stephen Curry to turn this into his own personal shooting clinic. Time will tell, and Curry will have to beat his own teammate, Klay Thompson, to do it…just like last year. But my all-time favorite three-point contest moment came in 2001, when Ray Allen took home the title as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks (it was almost their year). Can Khris Middleton do that this year…good luck (because he’s gonna need it)!
Here are my top five slam dunk contests…
- Spud Webb. It was 1986 and probably the first year that I picked up this event. At 5 feet 7 inches, Webb made us all believe that we had the chance to dunk one day.
- Michael Jordan. Jordan’s first win in the slam dunk contest came in 1987. MJ defeated Jerome Kersey in the final that year and set the stage for the epic 1988 dual with Dominique Wilkins.
- Dee Brown. In 1991, Brown secured his win over Shawn Kemp by doing the no-look dunk. Brown also used his Reebok Pumps to his advantage during this contest, and I remember everyone wanted to get those shoes immediately afterwards.
- Vince Carter. The year was 2000, and probably the last slam dunk contest that was really worth watching. I know there have been some decent contests since, but what Carter did on this night was simple amazing. Every dunk kept getting better and better…no one wanted it to end.
- Dominique Wilkins vs Michael Jordan. February 6th, 1988 (I can’t believe it has been 28 years already)…easily, the best slam dunk contest ever…and it’s not even close. The event probably should have been canceled after this.
The NBA All-Star Game is usually very entertaining (sometimes the dunks in this game are better than the ones in the slam dunk contest), with very little defense being played until late in the 4th quarter…so basically, just like every other NBA game. While there have been many highlights over the years…only ONE GAME stands out above all others for me. In the 1992 All-Star Game, Magic Johnson (in his first game back since announcing he had contracted the HIV virus and saying that this would be his last) stole the show (winning the MVP)…I will forever remember that game (Dick Enberg was on the call too). And Vanilla Ice was the halftime show!
So, sit back and relax this weekend…and don’t forget to take in some of the newer NBA All-Star Weekend festivities…the Rising Stars Challenge (represent, Jabari) on Friday night and the Skills Challenge on Saturday night.
And the NBA Developmental League will be busy this weekend as well, with their Dream Factory and All-Star Game (Saturday night)…you may recognize some of these players from past NCAA tournaments (as these guys can really play).
NBA action, it’s…FANtastic! (wait, was that O.J.)