The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is the high-flying staple of NBA All-Star Weekend. Saturday night becomes a stage for the best dunkers in the game to showcase their slamming ability with some added panache. Mascots, cars, birthday candles and Superman impressions — everything is in play.
The dunking crown isn’t something that’s worn lightly. In your championship reign, every time someone tells you to dunk you have to do it. Full uniform and all. Those are the rules. It’s best advised to pull a Clark Kent and keep the uniform under your clothes.
The competition first took place as we know it today in Denver, Colorado in 1984. Since then, we’ve had quite a few terrific performances. Here are the best of all time, plus the list of winners.
List of NBA Slam Dunk Contest Winners
Several legends have held the dunking belt in their career (there’s still time, LeBron). Here are all the winners and the contest’s location:
2021: Anfernee Simons (Trail Blazers) (Atlanta)
2020: Derrick Jones Jr. (Miami Heat) (Chicago)
2019: Hamidou Diallo (Oklahoma City Thunder) (Charlotte)
2018: Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz) (Los Angeles)
2017: Glen Robinson III (Indiana Pacers) (New Orleans)
2016: Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves) (Toronto)
2015: Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves) (Brooklyn)
2014: John Wall (Washington Wizards) (New Orleans)
2013: Terrence Ross (Toronto Raptors) (Houston)
2012: Jeremy Evans (Utah Jazz) (Orlando)
2011: Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers) (Los Angeles)
2010: Nate Robinson (New York Knicks) (Dallas)
2009: Nate Robinson (New York Knicks) (Phoenix)
2008: Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic) (New Orleans)
2007: Gerald Green (Boston Celtics) (Las Vegas)
2006: Nate Robinson (New York Knicks) (Houston)
2005: Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks) (Denver)
2004: Fred Jones (Indiana Pacers) (Los Angeles)
2003: Jason Richardson (Golden State Warriors) (Atlanta)
2002: Jason Richardson (Golden State Warriors) (Philadelphia)
2001: Desmond Mason (Seattle SuperSonics) (Washington, D.C.)
2000: Vince Carter (Toronto Raptors) (Oakland)
1997: Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) (Cleveland)
1996: Brent Barry (Los Angeles Clippers) (San Antonio)
1995: Harold Miner (Miami Heat) (Phoenix)
1994: Isiah Rider (Minnesota Timberwolves) (Minnesota)
1993: Harold Miner (Miami Heat) (Salt Lake City)
1992: Cedric Ceballos (Phoenix Suns) (Orlando)
1991: Dee Brown (Boston Celtics) (Charlotte)
1990: Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks) (Miami)
1989: Kenny Walker (New York Knicks) (Houston)
1988: Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls) (Chicago)
1987: Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls) (Seattle)
1986: Spud Webb (Atlanta Hawks) (Dallas)
1985: Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks) (Indianapolis)
1984: Larry Nance (Phoenix Suns) (Denver)Advertisement
We’ve seen some iconic performances. Let’s rank the top 10:
10. Derrick Jones Jr. (2020)
Turn your phones to airplane mode. Jones throws down with authority.
I’m not sure what more Aaron Gordon has to do to win this thing.
9. Blake Griffin (2011)
The guy jumped over a car.
8. Jason Richardson (2003)
The Richardson repeat.
7. Dee Brown (1991)
Brown was dabbing well before Cam Newton.
6. Nate Robinson (2009)
Much better than his performance against Jake Paul.
5. Dominique Wilkins (1985)
Wilkins bested Julius Erving for this one. He’s called the Human Highlight Film for a reason.
4. Zach LaVine (2015)
LaVine sprung onto the scene and wiped the floor with his competition. He makes it look effortless.
The Timberwolves guard contentiously defended the title in 2016. Aaron Gordon had some of the greatest dunks in the contest’s history that year.
3. Spud Webb (1986)
Standing 5-foot-7, Webb can do more than simply dunk. He put on a spectacle in front of his hometown of Dallas.
2. Michael Jordan (1988)
From the free-throw line.
1. Vince Carter (2000)
Was there ever a doubt about who would claim the top spot?