Dominique Wilkins On The State Of The Dunk Contest
Dominique Wilkins had many highlights during his NBA career. Wilkins was a nine-time consecutive All-Star (1986-1994), a scoring champion (1986), and Hall of Fame inductee (2006).
But Wilkins is best remembered as “The Human Highlight Film.” The nickname was derived from his reputation as one of the best dunkers in history and winner of two Slam Dunk Contests (1985, 1990).
Wilkins is now 53, but remains close to the game he once dominated as an analyst for FOX Sports South and Vice President of Basketball Operations with the Atlanta Hawks.
Despite being retired for more than a decade, Wilkins assured RealGM he could still dunk.
“Only on Fridays,” said Wilkins. “I need a week to warm up (smiling).”
Afterwards, I mentioned the Slam Dunk Contest and Wilkins immediately began shaking his head in disgust.
“There’s no question, it’s definitely gone down,” said Wilkins. “I just think because the main guys don’t participate anymore.”
Wilkins defeated Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler, Julius Erving, Larry Nance, Darrel Griffith, Terence Stansbury and Orlando Woolridge to win the 1985 Slam Dunk Contest.
Wilkins defeated Shawn Kemp, Scottie Pippen, Kenny Smith, Kenny Walker, Rex Chapman, Billy Thompson and Kenny Battle to win the 1990 Slam Dunk Contest.
Wilkins also finished third in 1984, as well as finishing second in both 1986 and 1988.
Despite the lack of the NBA's true stars in the Slam Dunk Contest in recent years, Wilkins believes there is a simple solution to return the buzz back to the event.
“Let me tell you if LeBron James, (Kevin) Durant, and even Kobe (Bryant) even though he’s an older Kobe, you let those guys get in the dunk contest and watch what happens,” said Wilkins. “You would not be able to buy a ticket.”
Wilkins also mentioned two dunkers that he would personally like to see participate in the Slam Dunk Contest again.
“I’d like to see Blake (Griffin) back in it,” said Wilkins. “I’d like to see Josh Smith and guys like that get back in it to bring back that flair to it, bring that importance to being one of the greatest dunkers ever.”
With more star players declining to participate over the years, I asked Wilkins if there are any new dunks that can be attempted to compensate for the lack of star power.
“There are no other dunks,” said Wilkins. “You can do the same dunks and put your own flair or twist to it to make it look different, but there aren’t too many different dunks unless you use props.”
In video games there is a Slam Dunk Contest game mode where gamers can use props and perform dunks that defy the laws of physics.
According to Wilkins, that has set unrealistic expectations on today’s athletes and tarnished the excitement of the event.
“I think the video games kind of screw it up too because people think that guys can actually do some of this stuff?" said Wilkins.
I asked Wilkins if the fine line between video game fantasy and real life achievement would be a player putting the ball between his legs twice before dunking.
Even Wilkins could not fathom such a thing.
“Nah,” said Wilkins. “That’s too much air time, but I’m sure guys would try to attempt that, but I don’t think anybody can. That’s just too much, to go through your legs twice.”