(Webb going up for a dunk. Photo by Stephen Dunn, Getty Images)
2/08/1986 - Webb wins slam dunk contest
There were many great moments in the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest in the 1980's. There was Michael Jordan's free-throw takeoff, his sideline one-hander, Dominique Wilkins' double-pump jam, and Terence Stansbury's Statue of Liberty. But only one man made a career out of his slam dunk performance, and that man was Spud Webb.
At the 1986 dunk contest, Spudd went up against Atlanta teammate Domique Wilkins, who was the defending-champion. At 5-foot-7, Webb was not only the smallest player in NBA history, he was a foot smaller than both Michael Jordan (who was not competing) and Wilkins. But Spud had the crowd and a 42-inch vertical leap on his side, and he demonstrated both with flawless precision. At one point he even pulled off a 360-degree spin, impressive considering he couldn't palm the basketball. When it was all said and done, Webb had stunned everyone and was declared the winner of the event.
"I'm proud to be his teammate," said Wilkins. "He's the best little guy I ever saw. ... I scored over 45 on all my dunks but he got 50's so what are you going to do? Everybody likes to see a little guy do well. And he did a lot of dunks guys 6-7 and 6-8 can't do."
Asked how he was able to dunk so high, Webb said, "I haven't the slightest idea. When I find out I'm going to write a book about it. I guess it's just God-given talent."
It was the defining moment for Webb, who spent the majority of his 13-year career coming off the bench for the Atlanta Hawks. He later spent time with Sacramento, Minnesota and Orlando. A year after his dunk, Webb's distinction as the smallest player in history was lost to Muggsy Bogues, a 5-foot-3 point guard who was drafted by the Washington Bullets.