Slam Dunk Contest History: Michael Jordan, Vince Carter And The Best Dunks Of All Time

The 2011 Slam Dunk contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, and it will be the latest chapter in a competition that dates back to the early 1980s. The Clippers' Blake Griffin, the Wizards' JaVale McGee, the Thunder's Serge Ibaka and the Raptors' DeMar DeRozan will do battle in the 26th edition of the event

So what dunks will they have to top in order to go down as the best dunkers in the history of the Slam Dunk Contest? Here's a quick look at some of the most memorable dunks in the contest's history, including the legendary performances by guys like Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Vince Carter.

Larry Nance wins first-ever NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1984

In the first-ever Slam Dunk Contest, Larry Nance of the Suns won out against a field that included aging legend Julius Erving, the inspiration for the contest ever happening. Nance's best dunk was when he dunked two balls at once, showing off his length and leaping ability all in one package.

Spud Webb shocks everyone, 1986

The 5'7'' Webb amazed the crowd, pulling off dunks that guys his size should not be able to accomplish. Of course, teammate Dominique Wilkins' dunks were probably more impressive, but the very fact that Webb did what he did at his size was enough to win. It was not the last time a smaller man was given preferential treatment because of the novelty of his size.

Michael Jordan vs. Dominique Wilkins, 1985, 1987 and 1988

Jordan vs. Wilkins was the perfect battle between grace and power, and it changed the Dunk Contest forever. Every dunk contest that followed these epic battles came with more anticipation than the ones before it. Wilkins topped Jordan in 1985, while Jordan won in 1987 when Wilkins was injured. That set up a rubber match in Chicago Stadium in 1988, and it did not disappoint. Wilkins took the lead with a one-handed throwdown off the glass from far away from the basket, but Jordan topped that with his patented free-throw line dunk to win it all.

J.R. Rider goes between the legs, 1994

Rider became a punchline later in his career, but he is famous in Slam Dunk Contest history for being the first player to successfully go between the legs on a dunk. Many others replicated Rider's move in future years, adding more flavor to it, but Rider was the trend setter.

Vince Carter dominates, 2000

In what remains the most impressive individual performance in Slam Dunk Contest history, Vince Carter brought in a new era in the competition emphatically, making it clear to everyone that they were playing for second place. Alas, he never once came back to defend his title.

Jason Richardson's reverse between-the-legs dunk, 2003

Easily the most underrated dunk in Slam Dunk Contest history. Needing a perfect score to defeat Desmond Mason, Richardson threw the ball up in the air, caught it, went between the legs backward and slammed it in over his head to defend his title. That's getting it done in a high-pressure situation.

Dwight Howard's "Superman" dunk, 2008

Everything about Howard's signature dunk to win the 2008 Dunk Contest was awesome, except for the fact that he didn't actually dunk it. Nevertheless, the theatrics were enough for Howard to score one for the big men and take the title. 

Throughout the day, be sure to check back with this StoryStream, which we'll be updating with more highlight reels and updates from tonight's dunk contest.

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