2008 Slam Dunk Competition: Dwight Howard is my Hero
The slam dunk competition was a highlight of my youth - far more entertaining than any sport's all-star game or skills competition, including the home run derby. Demanding athletic skill and imagination, it reveals as much about the player's personality as his vertical leap. With Dominique Wilkins' workmanlike Tomahawk dunks, Spud Webb's light-as-air acrobatics, and Jordan's muscular heroics - it always holds the promise of something mind-blowing, something jump-off-your-couch insane. Perhaps it's my aging into disillusionment, but dunk contests just didn't seem to hold the same magic recently. Last year, though, showed promise in the person of Dwight Horward, a 7-footer with incredible leaping ability. Last year he slapped a sticker on the top of the backboard with one hand (with his photo on it), and dunked with the other. He got screwed out of the title. But not this year:
It almost seemed physically impossible...bouncing the ball off the back of the backboard and windmilling it home anyway? In terms of pure athleticism, this was the most impressive dunk I've ever seen. But then he showed his creativity:
He was so high up he just threw it through the hoop. I couldn't find his third dunk, where (in the air) he bounced the ball of the backboard with one hand and then slammed it with the other. Again, a pure show of athleticism that, as announcer Kenny Smith said, seemed possible only in video games.
Another favorite from last night - and by far the most creative - was last years winner Gerald Green's "Birthday Cake" dunk, as he titled it. Placing a cupcake on the hoop with a lit candle on it, he jumped, blew out the candle, and slammed it home:
Pure athletic bliss.