Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

Stuff Your Dad Likes: Slam Dunk Contests

Posted in Basketball, Sports, Stuff Your Dad Likes by Jacob Zinn on February 20, 2012
Jacob Zinn can’t give you fatherly advice, but he can give you the awkward and explicit sex talk.

In 1984, the National Basketball Association started their official annual slam dunk contest. It changed the sport of basketball – and the sale of Nike shoes – forever.

For 28 years, the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest has brought the boomshakalaka to the NBA All-Star Weekend, with this year’s being held at Orlando, Florida’s Amway Center. Paul George, Derrick Williams, Iman Shumpert and Chase Budinger will be taking to the hoop Saturday night with bragging rights on the line.

Ever since the slam dunk contest’s inception, your dad has watched the likes of Dr. J and Wilt Chamberlain get nothing but net, dunking that orange Spalding basketball and hearing that satisfying swoosh. My dad’s personal favourite was the five-foot seven-inch underdog winner of the 1986 competition, Spud Webb. (That guy had mad hops!)

Even at six-feet two-inches tall, my dad couldn’t dunk. For him, the saying “white men can’t jump” was true, despite the 1992 buddy comedy of the same name about a streetball hustling Woody Harrelson.

That’s why he likes the slam dunk competition – the whole thing is a highlight reel of grandstanding and showboating, some of the best parts of basketball. Watching dunk after dunk by professional ballers is exhilarating, even for people who don’t watch basketball year-round.

When you first learned about Michael Jordan through Space Jam, your dad had already seen him win the slam dunk contest. Twice.

The contest has a long history of windmills, between-the-legs, 360s and free-throw line dunks, and the young guys nowadays are progressing the contest even further.

Kobe Bryant became the youngest slam dunk champion at 18 in his rookie season in 1997, and following a two-year hiatus of the competition, Vince Carter won the 2000 competition with a perfect score of 100 while showcasing the Honey Dip, hanging from the rim with his arm in the basket.

Dwight Howard’s Superman dunk, Gerald Green’s birthday cake slam, and last year’s winner, Blake Griffin’s alley-oop dunk over a car have continued to impress your dad, even if they aren’t the same players from back then.

Your dad’s nostalgia is with the feeling of excitement of the contest, not with seeing the greats of his time try for another glory dunk.

No 60-year-old retired pro should risk breaking a hip on a layup. Leave the innovation to the kids.


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