Remembering When The Dunk Contest Was Truly Great: The 1980s
But back in the 1980s, the dunk contest really did matter. How else do explain guys like Michael Jordan, Dominque Wilkins, Dr. J, Larry Nance, the perennially underappreciated Terrence Stansbury, Spud Webb, Clyde Drexler, Kenny "Sky" Walker, competing year after year after year against each other. It was a real test of who was the greatest. So let's look back at the dunk contests of the 1980s, when it was at its peak.
1984: This was the inaugural NBA dunk contest, and most people remember it as the dunk contest where the aging Dr. J managed to dig out his classic 1976 ABA Dunk Contest free throw line dunk. But Dr. J didn't even wind up winning the contest (he never would in the NBA). Instead it was Larry Lance. Also, pay close attention to the fact that Nance was in fact the person ever to do the famous "rock the cradle" dunk in the dunk contest, the dunk that ultimately came to be associated with Michael Jordan.
1985: This was Dominque Wilkins' first victory in the slam dunk contest, which also featured the first Wilkins/MJ head-to-head battle. But it's really the sheer talent in this contest that was so ridiculous. This dunk contest featured Wilkins, MJ, Dr. J, Larry Nance AND Terrance Stansbury, who delivered the classic Statue of Liberty dunk. Just a ludicrously loaded dunk contest.
1986: Maybe the single most impressive dunk contest of all time, as 5'7" inch Spud Webb managed to beat Wilkins and Stansbury.