Some players go to All-Star Weekend to participate in the actual All-Star Game. These guys are fantastic players who are well-known across the league because they're the best of the best. They win MVPs, scoring titles, Defensive Player of the Year awards. Those are the All-Stars.
Other players are at All-Star Weekend for a different reason. These guys are ridiculous athletes with unbelievable natural ability. They can do things that few other human beings can't do, and we've seen them put on some absolutely breathtaking performances in the Slam Dunk Contest.
But these guys don't have all of those other memorable moments or accolades to hang their hats on. They tend to have mostly forgettable NBA careers. But when we hear their name, we immediately think back to their performances in the Slam Dunk Contest.
These are the Spud Webb All-Stars.
Spud Webb (obviously)
Spud Webb played in 814 games throughout his 12-year career in the NBA, but his biggest highlight didn't happen in any of those contests. It happened at the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest during Webb's rookie season. Webb is listed at just 5'6 -- short for a normal person, much less an NBA player -- and it looks like there's absolutely no way he can dunk a basketball.
The highlights of him in the 1986 dunk contest seem like something out of an NBA-themed Breaking Madden, except in real life.
No basketball fan will ever hear the name "Spud Webb" without immediately thinking of this tiny point guard who couldn't palm a basketball throwing down ridiculous jams.
Throughout the years, there have been other players like Webb who had unremarkable careers except for their dunk contest exploits. They proudly follow in Spud's footsteps.
Fred Jones' dunks aren't nearly as memorable as some of the other guys on this list, but he's a Spud Webb All-Star because his performance in that 2004 dunk contest contest is literally the only notable thing about his career. Sure, Jones was a first-round pick out of Oregon. Sure, he once scored 31 points in a game.
But if you ever need to give somebody the Cliff Notes version of Jones' career, the only thing you really need to mention is the 2004 Slam Dunk Contest.
They even mention Spud Webb after his first dunk of the night! He has to be a part of this list.
It was a damn good performance too. Jones possessed a unique blend of power and hang time that made for some incredible dunks. His dunk at 1:55 in the video above is probably his best one. He tosses the ball in the air and goes to dunk it off the bounce, a pretty standard move in dunk contests. But his toss is really horrible and he finds himself underneath the basket. It's hard to tell if he meant to do that on purpose, but the result is an impressive 360 dunk where he has to reach out from under the basket to grab the ball and throw it down. Jones also tried to catch an alley-oop from a fan in the stands, but didn't manage to make that one work.
That would have been awesome, but it wasn't needed. His other dunks were good enough for him to take home the 2004 title and earn himself a place on this list.
(Sidenote: Somebody needs to write something only focusing on the outfits that other NBA players were wearing in some of these old dunk contest videos. What on earth is Jermaine O'Neal wearing at 4:04? And this was only 10 years ago!)
You had to know that Gerald Green would make the cut. His performance in the 2007 Slam Dunk Contest was incredible, but you could write an entire book about Green's dunks throughout his career. Green has career highlights other than his dunk contest performances ... but all of those other highlights are also dunks.
He's actually had a fascinating career. After winning the Slam Dunk Contest in 2007 and finishing as the runner-up in 2008, he bounced around the NBA before playing in Russia and China for two years. In 2011, he returned to the United States and signed with a D-League team before getting a 10-day contract with the Nets. The Pacers signed him, then traded him this past summer to the Suns, where he's currently having one of the best seasons of his career. And yes, he's still dunking like a madman.
You'll never be able to mention the name "Gerald Green" without forcing me to search for this windmill alley-oop that he threw down in a close game that his team was losing.
Although Green only won the contest in 2007, two of his best dunks came when he finished second to Dwight Howard in 2008. Surely you remember the time he put a cupcake on the back of the rim and blew out a candle as he caught an alley-oop from Rashad McCants.
Or when he did a between-the-legs dunk with no shoes on. The man dunked it between his legs in his socks. And the announcers weren't even impressed! "But why he do the same dunk though?" asked Magic Johnson. Because he did it in his socks, you fools! Stop reading this, go to a gym and jump with your shoes on. Then, take your shoes off and try to jump in your socks. See how hard that is?
And don't forget that Green participated in the contest last year too. He didn't win, but my god, this dunk is incredible.
Gerald Green was born to compete in dunk contests.
Nate Robinson's link to Spud Webb is obvious. They're both really short and they've both won the Slam Dunk Contest. Actually, Robinson has won the Slam Dunk Contest three times and remains the only person in NBA history to do so. And although he played for the New York Knicks for the first four and a half years of his career, he was only really relevant to casual NBA fans because he claimed those titles.
Sure, Andre Iguodala probably should have won the 2006 contest instead, and his 2009 and 2010 wins aren't particularly noteworthy. But Robinson has had his share of memorable moments, like when he brought Webb out of the crowd and jumped over him in 2006.
Robinson's showmanship is as important as his dunking, and he clearly stresses the creativity part of the contest. Remember KryptoNate, when he put on a bright green Knicks jersey and jumped over Superman (Dwight Howard)?
Did Robinson use gimmicks? Absolutely. Were some of the less creative dunks by other players more impressive? Sure. But he put on a show every time he participated, and that's what the event is all about.
When we look back at Nate Robinson's career, we won't remember his various stints as a backup point guard with the Knicks, Celtics, Thunder, Warriors, Bulls or Nuggets. We'll remember his performances in the Slam Dunk Contest.
There's very little evidence that Jeremy Evans is actually a regular NBA player. Prior to the 2013-14 season, he had never averaged more than 10 minutes per game. It's unclear what position he plays and he's listed at 6'9 and 196 pounds, which I'm not sure is even possible. But the man can jump.
And apparently he can paint too.
Jeremy Evans jumping over a painting of himself jumping over a painting is the trippiest thing we'll ever see in a dunk contest. It's a year later and it kind of freaks me out. But his performances in the 2012 and 2013 Slam Dunk Contests, combined with the fact that he's done nothing else in the NBA, put him on this list.
Most of the other guys on this list are going to be Spud Webb All-Stars forever. My memory of them will forever be linked to their dunk contest performance.
But Terrence Ross could be different. As it stands, he deserves to be on this list. He's the reigning Slam Dunk Contest champion and will look to defend his title in New Orleans this weekend.
But this is only Ross' second season and he doesn't have to be remembered merely as a guy who won dunk contests. He's a talented young shooting guard with a chance to be a lot more than just a dunker, and that goes against everything this list is about. He scored 51 points in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers, and I'm not sure you're allowed to be both a Tony Delk All-Star and a Spud Webb All-Star.
Some guys are destined to be on this list. Terrence Ross has time to decide whether he wants to be a Spud Webb All-Star or if he wants to be something different. If he brings down the house with a ridiculous performance this weekend, he may not have a choice. He might cement his status. But this is a 23-year-old with a long career ahead of him. He could go on to enjoy a ton of success in the NBA and have the Slam Dunk Contest be a mere footnote. And truthfully, I don't know what Ross' legacy will be. He's just too young.
But I do know one thing. If Terrence Ross brings out Kenneth Faried as a prop for this weekend's Slam Dunk Contest and does anything resembling this dunk, he'll always be a Spud Webb All-Star, no matter what type of player he becomes.