In 2001, leading into the All-Star weekend, legendary college coach John Thompson sat down with Michael Jordan to discuss the NBA Dunk Contest state, including how Jordan would match up against fellow dunk legend Vince Carter.
Art form of creativity
Jordan talked about the dunk contests in the ’80s when he was actively participating, saying there was a sense to be as creative as you can be without using any additional help on the side. On top of that, Jordan was impressed with what he saw from Vince Carter in the 2000 Dunk Contest.
"It's an art form of creativity, and me and Dominique went at each other. You have a lot of young stars. At the time the creativity was always us. We didn't bring guys to jump over, chairs to jump; it was all how can you use your imagination. Vince was very creative last year, and that is one of the reasons why he became one of the fans' favorite."
Every generation of players watches what the one before them did, trying to emulate it and improve everything they see. It was the same for Jordan, who found inspiration watching Julius Erving and David Thompson, two of the best highflyers in the 70’s and early 80’s.
"I think what we took from Doctor J, David Thompson, and take it to another level, and the fans expect these young kids to do the same. It's tough to be out there and try to come up with something the fans haven't seen."
Competing with Vince would be fun
Jordan is confident if the fans ever got the chance to see a Dunk Contest between him and Vince, they would be in for a treat. Both players were extremely creative when they participated in the Dunk Contest, and if they competed against each other, Jordan is confident the creativity level would be through the roof.
"If you talk about me when I was younger, I think we would have a really good competition. It would be fun, and the fans would certainly get entertained, and it doesn't matter who wins because you'll see creativity at its best."
Unfortunately, superstar players no longer wish to participate in the Dunk Contest as they used to, and there are different reasons for that type of decision. On the other hand, Jordan said he would compete even at an older age, saying it's an ultimate form of creativity where you rely solely on yourself to have the best outcome possible. He also shared an interesting view of how the Dunk Contest always brought the best in him, letting the creativity take over.
"I would love to do it because that is a great example of creativity, to go out there and not know what you are going to do and let the instincts take over. That was the thing for myself and Dominique as well. We never knew what we were going to do, and we just let the creativity take over. To me, that is fun, it's innovative, and I think that is more intriguing for the fans to see instead of something that is practiced. I think they would see innovative creativity, and it shows a part of your personality."
The Dunk Contest is no longer what it used to be, and most fans have been disappointed with it for the past couple of years. The lack of superstars participating is one reason, but the type of dunks players perform is another. Other than the Dunk Contest in 2016, in which Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine put on a show, there hasn’t been a memorable Dunk Contest in recent years. It’s up to the NBA to figure out what needs to be improved because the dunk contest itself was once even more expected than the All-Star game itself.