Saturday, September 24, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #18

This year's crop of young dunkers will be the best the NBA has seen in quite awhile.

#18 - 2006 Slam Dunk Contest

The 2005 Slam Dunk Contest in Denver this past February was the most electrifying and thrilling display of aerial artistry that we've seen at the famed All-Star Weekend event since Vince Carter took spectators breathes away in 2000 with his assault of jaw-dropping dunks. Thanks to J.R. Smith, Amare Stoudemire, and of course Josh Smith, the Dunk Contest was simply a thing of beauty-- rich with creativity and finesse, and actually living up to the enormous hype it almost always succumbs to. Now looking ahead to the 2005-06 season, it might be time to start pumping up this year's contest right now, what with a group of dunkers that are sure to take the NBA by storm. Here's a realistic look at potential contestants (sorry, but we'll never see LeBron or D-Wade) to keep an eye on as we anticipate the resurging event...

Josh Smith, Atlanta
-His display in Denver will go down for the ages, and he barely even reached into his bag of tricks. There hasn't been a dunker who has flown through the air with such grace since Jordan had hair. Smith's rare ability to make even the simplest dunk look like a work of art is just a treat to the eys.

J.R. Smith, New Orleans
-His opening slam during February's Dunk Contest is vastly underappreciated and arguably one of the ten best dunks in the event's history. No joke. Now coupled with phenom Chris Paul in the Hornets' backcourt, look for JR to get plenty of opportunities to strut his stuff.

Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia
-Iggy probably had more highlight-reel dunks last season than any other player in the league. At least it seemed that way when he landed on SportsCenter's Top Ten list practically every night. He seems to be more of a game dunker, but I'd still like to see what he can do in the contest.

Travis Outlaw, Portland
-Outlaw barely got off the bench for almost two years before Portland decided it was time to see what the lanky kid from Mississippi could do. So for the final month of last season, we were treated to Outlaw's ridiculous hops and some remarkable alley-oops from Sebastian Telfair, a connection we might want to get used to. Outlaw also finished as the runner-up to Stromile Swift for the 'Best Posterization of Yao Ming Award'.

Mickael Pietrus, Golden State
-Can you believe that no international player has ever entered the dunk contest? Pietrus certainly merits consideration as a contestant, not to mention as a true contender. He rarely goes for the flair, but the hops are undeniably up there with the best of 'em.

Tony Allen, Boston
-Anyone see that 90 second span early last season when Allen had a triumvirate of absurd dunks against the Blazers? Just plain disgusting. He also provided us with this dunk during the VSL. Unfortunately, Tony has had a rough offseason (legal troubles and knee surgery), so it's unknown when we'll see him travel the friendly skies again.

Gerald Green, Boston
-Boston's other hi-flyer put forth quite a display during the McDonald's All-American Dunk Contest last spring, essentially wiping the floor with his competition. But if you missed that performance, check out this much-ballyhooed dunk from the VSL-- it might be all you need to be convinced that he could be Josh Smith's most threatening competition come February.

Hakim Warrick, Memphis
-Warrick is a essentially a Stromile Swift clone, which is why he'll be warmly welcomed in Memphis since he'll appease fans with a healthy dose of facials. I doubt we'll see him in the contest since his size (6'9") will work against him, but he might be encouraged to enter if he frequently pulls off more dunks like these.

Nate Robinson, New York
-Nate the Great might just be the most prolific athlete in the NBA right now. Anyone who has been tracking his career the last couple years at Washington or watched him blow people away with this Knicks this summer, knows what he's capable of. He might not get prime playing time this season, but that won't prevent him from being a feared contender for this year's dunk contest. At just 5'8", Nate Robinson going to bring back plenty of Spud Webb memories, and might just even create his own legacy.

Interesting fact about the Dunk Contest that you probably didn't know:
-Scottie Pippen ('90), Rex Chapman ('90, '91), Clarence Weatherspoon ('93), Allan Houston ('94), Antonio Davis ('94), Doug Christie ('96), and Ray Allen ('97) all have participated in the All-Star Weekend Dunk Contest. Shawn Kemp entered 5 consecutive years ('90-94), but never won. Weird.


At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

Another fact is Pippen even did a free throw line dunk. He did it in first round but should have done it later on.

At 7:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn. I didn't know Scottie had hops like that.

At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Ron Hitley said...

Didn't Kendall Gill do a dunk contest one year too?

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Paul Benedict said...

Ron Hitley...that's one bad-ass name if I've ever seen one. Are you a professional killer or something? To answer your question, Kendall Gill did do a dunk contest. I think it was in '90, I'll look it up later if you're dying to know. Your boy Larry Johnson also finished 2nd to Cedric Ceballos one year, and Stacey Augmon finished dead last that same year.

I'd like to know what you guys think of the dunks I linked up. I personally think the Warrick facial from the block and the Swift facial over Yao are the sickest. Is it too much of a pain to even watch the clips?

At 11:51 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

I donth think Gill was not in the '90 dunk contest. I saw that one and i'm pretty sure he wasn't in it.

Clyde Drexler also participated in a dunk contest once without reaching the finals.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger Paul Benedict said...

You're right, Gill was in the '91 Dunk Contest. My bad. Drexler actually participated in 4 dunk contests, but never finished better than 3rd in any year.

At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Outlaw facial would have been sick..had he not taken an extra step. I'm a huge fan of the Nate Robinson tip-in myself.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Mike said...

David Lee can also throw down. He won the 2001 McDonald's All-American dunk contest against James White. I couldn't find video of his dunks, but here's White's:

Definitely one of the best dunk contests ever.

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Ah, here we go:


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