Andre Iguodala has always been and still is a great dunker, especially in the early years of his career and he showed it in the 2006 Dunk Contest
Then in the middle of his sophomore season and a few years shy of his big-money extension, was still in the good graces of Philadelphia as the other AI’s sidekick. One day prior, he turned in an MVP effort during the annual Rookie-Sophomore showcase, powering the second-year players to a win with 30 points. Charles Barkley jokingly opined that Iguodala scored so much because, “he’s trying to get it out of his system before he goes back to Philly.
His in game ability for dunks and alley-oop finishes earned him a spot in a decent dunk field featuring reigning champion Josh Smith , Hakim Warrick , and Nate Robinson, the token short man.
The contest got underway without much of a clear favorite. TNT’s crew was high on Warrick’s athletic ability, banking on him using the national stage to finally earn some shine at the professional level. Smith won the contest the year before, but Robinson — likely recipient of the usual “short guy bonus points” — and Iguodala were given more of a chance than the Hawks forward.
Robinson emerged from the first series of dunks with 49 points, surging ahead of the field early. Still, after the second round there seemed to be no debate as to who was going to eventually take home the crown. Iguodala cleared photographers out from behind the basket and prepared to make history with an off-the-back glass, one-handed reverse. Iguodala’s perfect 50 on the second dunk launched him into the final, where he would go head-to-head with crowd favorite Robinson.
In the finals Iguodala brought the 50-point funk in, after going behind-the-back in midair and throwing down a windmill, TNT’s Kevin Harlan declared ‘”It’s done,”
With nowhere else to turn, Robinson pulled out what would end up being his trump card. Summoning former champion Spud Webb from the crowd, Robinson received a puzzling 50 for jumping over the shortest man to ever win the Dunk Contest.
Iguodala looked to close out the contest with a through-the-legs reverse, a safe play that wasn’t going to lose him the contest. but it went into a dunk-off.
Despite all momentum being on his side, Robinson turned in another mediocre performance in the overtime session, missing 13 attempts and throwing his setup pass off the screen more than once. After finally, painfully completing the through-the-legs pass punctuated by an ordinary finish, 47 points went to Nate.
For his final attempt, Iguodala went baseline, stuffing home a through-the-legs, under-the-rim finish that should have been enough to win. He sauntered toward the cavalcade of players on the sideline, dapping A.I. and getting ready to celebrate his victory when the scores rolled in. The judges struck again — an unnamed judge pulled back a “10” card, leaving him one point shy of Robinson’s final round score.
Boos cascaded from the crowd; the same people pulling for Robinson all night were outraged at the transparent match fixing taking place on the hardwood.
Iguodala, assumed to be a contender for the dunk crown for years to come, would never again step foot in the contest. He maintained silence on the event for years, preferring not to interject with his opinion.