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Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Updated: February 14, 8:02 PM ET
Remembering The Most Original Dunks

ESPN.com

The 2009 NBA Slam Dunk Contest will be held Saturday night during All-Star Weekend in Phoenix. Dwight Howard, Nate Robinson, Rudy Gay and Sergio Rodriguez are scheduled to compete and will no doubt create some highlight-reel memories for basketball fans across the world. With that in mind, we've asked ESPN.com's NBA experts to tell us about their favorite slam dunks from years past.

Jon Barry

Probably my favorite dunk contest memory was when Spud Webb staked his claim as the best little-man dunker the NBA has ever seen. I was there in Chicago when he did it. You are talking about a guy who at 5-foot-7 almost jumps his own height to dunk a basketball. It was incredible to watch, and don't forget that Michael Jordan was in that competition, too.

Spud put on a heck of a show that night.

I remember one dunk in particular when he threw the ball up from half court, ran underneath it and reversed it. That's the one that stands out to me.

But another obvious special memory for me was when I watched my brother Brent in the 1996 contest on TV.

To see my unassuming little brother, with his warm-up suit on, jump from one foot inside the free throw line just as Dr. J did and win an NBA dunk contest was certainly a personal thrill for me as well.

Chris Broussard

Last year, Dwight Howard put on arguably the best show ever at the NBA All-Star Weekend Dunk Contest. His superman dunk was incredible.
Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard put on the cape and then put on a show for the crowd in New Orleans.
For a number of years the dunk contest got stale and lacked excitement, but Howard's dunk brought life back to the contest. There are only so many ways you can dunk a basketball, but Howard showcased several new dunks we had never seen.

One dunk he started from out of bounds behind the backboard, then threw it off the backboard and dunked it. Some people said the superman dunk wasn't a dunk because he threw it in. However, I thought it was more than a dunk! It was the single most impressive performance we had ever seen! I never thought I'd see a guy nearly 7 feet tall dunk the ball like that.

Generally the tall guys don't look as good dunking as the smaller guys, but Dwight Howard's dunk was phenomenal.

John Hollinger

Darvin Ham
Ham's jam in '97 was epic.
It's the dunk nobody remembers -- one of the most difficult dunks I've ever seen, one that I've yet to see repeated and one that was inexcusably shafted by the judges.

The dunk in question is Darvin Ham's touch-the-board reverse-180 move in 1997. Ham was arguably the best power dunker in recent history, something that would have been more evident if he could shoot or dribble; instead, he hardly played.

But man, could he dunk. Ham, a Nugget at the time, came in from the free throw line and went up on the right side of the board with the ball cradled in his right hand. He slapped the board with his left hand, then turned his body 180 degrees back toward the court -- going against his momentum, in other words -- and slammed it home with his right hand.

Somehow, that epic jam couldn't get him out of the first round, and he was never seen in the dunk contest again. Instead, we're left with footage of that one dunk, and his backboard-smashing slam in the 1996 NCAA tournament against North Carolina.

Michael Jordan
MJ put on a show in '88.
Tim Legler

My favorite dunk contest memory comes from the 1988 All-Star Weekend in Chicago.

It was Michael Jordan in front of his home-crowd Bulls fans and Dominique Wilkins going head-to-head in one of the greatest duels in the history of All-Star Weekend.

The snapshot of Michael Jordan coming in from the left side with his body laid out virtually parallel to the ground as he dunks the ball with his right hand will forever be the greatest single moment from the dunk contest.

It was made even more special by the fact that both Jordan and Wilkins were already All-Stars and yet they coveted the title of being the NBA's dunk champion.

They weren't afraid to lose, and as a result of their fearlessness, the electricity in the building was unmatched as the fans watched in awe the star power participating in the contest.

Marc Stein

Cedric Ceballos
Ced's slam was a huge hit.
Explaining the magnitude of the dunk contest in my high school years is not easy in a space this confined.

I was a freshman in 1984 when the NBA brought it back from the dead, and I am not exaggerating when I say that All-Star Saturday was by far the biggest night of the year for my (geeky) circle of friends for four years running.

But if you're forcing me to pick one dunk champ who levitates above all others, Cedric Ceballos is an automatic choice.

I realize I might be in the minority with that selection, but you'd understand if you had gone to college with Ced.

On the campus of Cal State Fullerton, memories of his Hocus Pocus throwdown with that blindfold on really do top Michael Jordan, Dominque Wilkins and anyone else you want to name.