Some years, Slam Dunk Contest judges have impossible decisions to make. Some years, a spectacular performance or two walks away without a trophy. In honor of the undecorated superstars in Dunk Contest lore, we put together our six best performances that didn't win. A couple of these guys did win in other years, but these performances stand out in the canon.
Defeated By: KIA
JaVale had three of the most creative dunks ever: two balls in two hoops, three balls in one hoop and this incredible flirtation with an airborne concussion along the baseline. It's a dunk that certainly benefits from a thousand hi-def cameras and super slow-mo. But man, what a technical feat for a very large human.
Defeated By: Michael Jordan
Jordan deserved the victory for his free throw line dunk, but 'Nique put together the best runner-up performance ever, starring the insane hangtime dunk at the 5:27 mark of this video. That one would give Kenny Smith a heart attack if it happened in 2010s.
Defeated By: Dee Brown
All of them. Just a fantastic wire-to-wire performance for Kemp, who never won a Dunk Contest despite some mammoth entries. He's officially the self-lob king.
Defeated By: Blake Griffin and JaVale McGee
The Showstopper was DeRozan's best dunk in two contests, though he came closer to beating Nate Robinson in 2010. In 2011, he just happened to run into the Blake-JaVale buzzsaw.
Defeated By: Vince Carter and Steve Francis
T-Mac's first round was epic, and he actually entered the final round just one point behind teammate Vince Carter. But he botched his final dunk to finish third and never competed again.
Defeated By: Vince Carter
Stevie Franchise was obviously overshadowed by Vinsanity, but his great performance helped rebuild the reputation of the Dunk Contest. This final dunk (7:13 mark) personifies what Francis brought to the contest: A totally nuts ability to fly.