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Where the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest ranks in All-Star Weekend history

NBA, Dunk Contest, Aaron Gordon, Derrick Jones Jr.

Apart from the All-Star Game itself, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest will always be the main draw of the league’s annual mid-season festivities.

After getting mixed reviews over the years, there has been growing clamor among pundits who claim that the 3-Point shootout should be the headliner of All-Star Saturday Night.

The NBA has resorted to implementing new rules to spice things up in the contest, while the complexity of inventing new dunks has left some participants resorting to gimmicks.

This year’s entertaining aerial duel between Derrick Jones Jr. and Aaron Gordon, however, just showed that the Dunk Contest is still and will always be the main attraction.

When done right, the exhilarating showcase combines creativity with gravity-defying acts of pure athleticism.

With that said, we take a loot at how this year’s epic duel stacks up to what most fans consider three of the bests Slam Dunk Contests of all time.

4. 1986 — David takes down Goliath

Nowadays, only four dunkers participate in the NBA Dunk Contest. But back in 1986, a total of nine participants showcased their hops in Dallas.

In what was considered the greatest upset in the contest’s rich history, 5-foot-7 Spud Webb dethroned one of the greatest dunkers of all time in Dominique Wilkins.

The two Atlanta Hawks teammates went mano-a-mano in the finale, as the diminutive guard defied the laws of gravity time after time by pulling off off-the-backboard dunks, a 360, and a double-pump two-handed jam.

As far as the degree of difficulty goes, there are probably better and more techinical dunkers than Spud over the years.

Webb’s feat, however, certainly inspired a generation of vertically-challenged players all over the world.

3. 2020 — Judges deny Air Gordon for the second time

This year’s dunk contest at the United Center is indeed one for the books, and it’s a shame that it was once again marred by controversy.

Still, both Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr. came up with several dunks that are surely in the top 10 best dunks of all time.

The champion Jones set the tone with a sick reverse tornado between the legs jam. He amped up the difficulty by being the first one to catch the ball off the backboard and jumping over someone while once again going between his legs.

Jones wasn’t satisfied and went ahead and did it over two people.

However, it’s still hard to deny Gordon’s claim after he pulled off a couple of unique and never-before-seen dunks. The slo-mo replay of his dunk over Chance the Rapper showed Gordon chaining several combinations mid-air.

Gordon also took his 2016 “Stuff the Magic Dragon” Dunk to new heights, connecting on a video game-like one-handed windmill 360 off the side backboard.

Let’s also not forget that he completely cleared the 7-foot-5 Tacko Fall without leaning on him or pushing off with his other hand.

2. 2016 — LaVine and Gordon raised the bar high

It’s crazy how Aaron Gordon is on this list twice, but he’s never held the Slam Dunk title (and probably never will). He went dunk-for-dunk against defending champion Zach LaVine in Toronto in 2016.

Gordon arguably pulled off the most creative dunks in history and fully utilized the Orlando Magic mascot during several attempts. His 360 dunk, while Stuff was in a hoverboard, was truly a beauty to watch.

Gordon’s under the legs dunk, meanwhile, will probably go down as one the best of all time.

We’ve seen people take off from the free-throw line, but LaVine made it downright ridiculous by doing windmills and a between the legs dunk from that absurd distance.

Even more impressive, LaVine almost made all his dunks on the first attempt with ease.

 

1. 2000 — The legend of Vinsanity was born

The 2000 edition of the Dunk Contest in Oakland had the who’s who of 2000’s stars, from the likes of Tracy McGrady, Steve Francis, and Jerry Stackhouse.

T-Mac did make a difficult 360 pump jam, while Stevie Franchise represented the little guys with a difficult reach-back slam.

But all eyes were simply on Vince Carter from the moment he executed that iconic reverse 360 windmill.

“Half Man, Half Amazing” was clearly in his element that night, dazzling fans with a 180 windmill from underneath the rim and a between-the-legs slam to catapult himself to the finals.

Carter’s simple yet jaw-dropping honey dip dunk gave him another 50. He capped off the win by throwing down a two-handed jam off the free-throw line.

We’ve had great NBA Slam Dunk contests since then, but the 2000 iteration still stands the test of time.

Carter treated each dunk as a work of art. No gimmicks. No costumes. Just some good old fashioned high-flying display of greatness.