This season will be the 33rd NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest. The first was held in Denver, Colorado, on Jan. 28, 1984. Larry Nance of the Phoenix Suns ultimately defeated Julius “Dr. J” Erving of the 76ers in the final round. In the beginning, the contest was held with eight competitors and five judges. Each player had three chances to dunk with only 24 seconds to make their shot. Each dunk was judged on a scale of one to 10. Only the four highest-scoring players moved on to the semifinals and, after three more dunks, the last two highest-scoring players faced off in the finals. After the final three dunks, the player who scored the highest out of a total 150 points was the winner.
This year, four players will get three chances to complete each of their two dunks. The five judges will score each dunk on a scale of six to 10, with the two highest-scoring players moving on to the final round. These two players will again have three chances to complete each of their two dunks and, at the end of the round, the highest-scoring player will be the champion.
In the past 30 years of All-Star Slam Dunk Contest history, fans and players have seen some of the most epic moments in the history of the NBA. In 2011, we saw Blake Griffin jump over the hood of a car to complete his dunk as a choir behind him sang R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.” Griffin went on to win the competition. Although this was a feat, it doesn’t compare to 5-foot-7-inch Nate Robinson’s three wins in 2006, 2009, and 2010, making him the winningest All-Star Slam Dunk Contest participant. In 2009, he dunked over 6-foot-11-inch Dwight Howard, who had returned to defend his title from the previous year. Robinson was representing the Knicks with each of those wins, who are now tied with the Hawks for most wins at four each.
Last year’s champion, Glenn Robinson III, was the second Pacers champion in the history of the contest. His winning dunk earned him 50 points after he leaped over the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Paul George, Indiana Pacers Kayla Noel, and Pacers mascot Boomer to defeat Derrick Jones Jr. of the Phoenix Suns.
This year’s participants include Victor Oladipo (Pacers), Larry Nance Jr. (Cavs), Dennis Smith Jr. (Mavericks), and Donovan Mitchell (Jazz).
Oladipo is ranked 13th in the NBA in scoring with a career-high 23.9 points per game. He previously made an appearance in the slam dunk contest in 2015 but fell short to Zach Lavine. Oladipo was voted fan-favorite Dunk of the Year for the 2016-17 season and will become the second consecutive champion from the Pacers if he wins this year’s contest.
Nance Jr. is the son of the All-Star Slam Dunk Contest’s original winner, Larry Nance. Representing the Cavaliers, he is posting career highs in scoring with 8.8 points per game.
Smith Jr. is a rookie in his first year with the Mavericks. With 14.8 points per game, he ranks fifth of all the rookies this season. In addition to the Slam Dunk Contest, fans can find Smith Jr. competing for the U.S. Team in Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars during the NBA All-Star weekend beginning Feb. 16, 2018.
Donovan Mitchell is also a rookie who will be joining the competition last minute after Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic was forced to withdraw due to injury. He’s leading all NBA rookies this season in scoring, with 19.7 points per game and will earn the Jazz their second win since 2012 if he comes in first.
Be a Part of the Action
The annual competition takes place each NBA All-Star weekend, with this year’s event to be held at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb.17, 2018, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles (it’s scheduled to air on TNT). Make sure you’re ready to cheer your favorite player on for the contest and the second half of the season by stopping by Fanatics today.