CHICAGO (AP) – Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins have never spoken to each other about the 1988 Dunk Competition.
You could be the only ones.
It is still the dunk competition by which all other dunk competitions are judged: two stars, at the peak of their strength, the players who took first and second place in the ranking this season and compete against each other for a winner to investigate. Jordan left the old Chicago Stadium with the trophy that evening. To date, many believe that Wilkins was the rightful winner. In any case, it was a show you should never forget – and now, for the first time since that night 32 years ago, the Dunk Competition is returning to Chicago on Saturday night.
“I had a home advantage, yes,” Jordan said in an interview with The Associated Press this week.
“The fans got their money’s worth,” said Wilkins in a separate interview with AP.
<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Participants in this season's Dunk competition – Orlando Aaron Gordon, Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr., the Los Angeles Lakers‘ Dwight Howard and Milwaukees Pat Connaughton – will be quite a show when what they do on Saturday will pass the test of time that the Jordan Wilkins competition has. “data-reactid =” 36 “> This season’s dunk competition – Aaron Gordon from Orlando, Miami Derrick Jones Jr., Dwight Howard from the Los Angeles Lakers and Pat Connaughton from Milwaukee – will have quite a show in front of them, if what they do on Saturday will pass the test of time that the Jordan Wilkins competition has.
To this day, Wilkins believes he should have won.
And to this day, he shows what Jordan did that night.
“We were enemies and we had some great battles, but he understood the moment,” said Wilkins. “ He understood what we did, you know? So there are no hard feelings for us. There is no hostility. We love the fact that they are still talking about it because we knew what we brought. ”
None of the four Dunk Contest participants this year is All-Stars. It was different 32 years ago when the Dunk competition only took place for the fifth time. Jordan was MVP in 1988, Wilkins was sixth in MVP voting this season and they were the only players this season to score an average of more than 30 points per game.
” It’s a little bit different today. And today it’s probably a lot more difficult because how many times can you do the same dunks over and over? “” Jordan said. “ So they’re trying to create things that people haven’t seen and that means jumping over people and cars and the like. We didn’t have to do that because nothing preceded us. ”
The field from 1988 was stacked. Wilkins won in 1985. Spud Webb won in 1986. Jordan won in 1987. They were all in the field, along with Greg Anderson, Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey and Otis Smith.
“My memories were more than anything else that I represented Chicago,” said Jordan. ” I just wanted to represent them well. I wanted to win, don’t get me wrong. But I also knew that Dominique was an incredible dark and very sporty and a human highlight film. So I had to come up with certain things that are very special and unique. ”
Of course it was Wilkins versus Jordan that mattered. Three dunks each decide on the title. Both scored a perfect score of 50 on the first dive into the final round. Wilkins got another 50 in the second round, Jordan only 47. That meant that Wilkins, who was the first to dive in each round of the final, only needed 48 to win to get over Jordan.
Wilkins went to his last dive with a two-handed windmill. The judges’ score: 45. Drexler watched incredulously.
I was surprised at his score, said Jordan.
The door was open to Jordan. He tried a dunk from the foul line and missed, but the rules allowed two chances per attempt. The second attempt is the one that has been repeated about a billion times since then: he started right inside the foul line, pulled the ball back a little before finishing the slam, and scored the perfect score of 50.
Bottom line: Jordan 147, Wilkins 145.
“The dunk competition, Nique was robbed,” said Doc Rivers, the Los Angeles Clippers coach who was an all-star this year, who represented Atlanta – including Wilkins’ team – in his hometown of Chicago. “But otherwise it was a perfect weekend.”
The dunk competition has had its ups and downs ever since.
It went away for a couple of years. Fred Jones, a journeyman who played for five teams in seven seasons, was the 2004 champion. Jeremy Evans – he averaged 3.5 points per game in his career – won in 2012. In 2014 the NBA tried a team concept with three representatives each Conference. it was not well received. Only the most passionate fan probably remembers that last year’s winner was Hamidou Diallo.
There were some stars: Kobe Bryant won in 1997 and Vince Carter won in 2000, a win that still attracts Raves from Jordan.
The highest compliment indeed.
“The most amazing dunk I’ve ever seen is probably Vince Carter hanging his elbow in the edge,” said Jordan. ” For me it was simply unbelievable. ”
But most of the biggest names – and many that are considered the best dunkers of their generation – have passed the dunk competition. LeBron James has never entered one, neither has Russell Westbrook, nor Dwyane Wade.
I would have loved to see LeBron, said Wilkins.
Jordan agreed and said he knew the fans were asking James to try at least once.
“What we did in the game and the excitement we created when we immersed ourselves,” said Jordan. ” People wanted to see that. Is it the same today? Maybe not.”
Reed reported from Charlotte, North Carolina.
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