The 1980s and 1990s NBA All-Star weekends would be tough to imagine without the presence of Michael Jordan. The Chicago Bulls superstar was voted to the distinguished annual event in each of his first nine NBA seasons but unfortunately had to miss the 1986 game in Dallas due to a foot injury.
Since 1985, when he first appeared in the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk competition, MJ transformed the competition, taking it to another level with his tremendous youthful mix of electricity and creativity.
After he made history by winning two consecutive competitions, in 1987 (Seattle) and 1988 (Chicago), the world was anxious to see what's next on the Michelangelo of Basketball slam-dunking repertoire.
Moreover, everyone was more than eager to see another clash of the slam-dunking titans, Jordan and Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks). It was The Human Highlight Film who put on a spectacular show in Jordan’s ‘fortress’ Chicago, displaying the incredible aerodynamics and acrobatics, and challenged Jordan up to his last dunk.
But just before the 1989 NBA All-Star weekend, MJ announced that he wasn't going to participate in the slam dunk contest because he didn't want to aggravate his left knee. Just before the 1989 NBA All-Star weekend (10th-12th Feb.) Wilkins also opted out of the competition, citing his hand injury as a reason.
With Jordan and Wilkins both being out, it suddenly opened the window for other mighty contestants from all across the NBA to finally have the legit chance of winning the spectacular elite event.
“It was more a doctor's decision. I've been having problems after every game with my knees, whereas my left knee I injured two and a half weeks ago. It was giving me problems, and he advised me that because of the pounding I probably would taken in the dunking contest, I should pass it. They really wanted me not to participate in the Slam Dunk, and I look forward to play in the All-Star game.”
Without Jordan and Wilkins in the 1989 SD contest, it was New York Knicks' power forward Kenny Sky Walker who won the exciting competition and took home the trophy and the money prize. To become the new Slam Dunk King Walker had to overcome the hometown crowd favorite Clyde Drexler (Portland Trail Blazers) in the finals of the competition.
The 1988 NBA All-Star game MVP Michael Jordan certainly didn't disappoint in the 1989 game of the brightest stars in Houston - MJ scored 28 points on 13-23 shooting from the field, to go along with 5 steals, 3 assists and 2 board in the East All-Stars 134-143 loss. Wilkins scored 9 points on 3-8 shooting.
Back then, His Airness was still nowhere in terms of the NBA championships rings, but already in the second half of the 1988-89 season, he provided the Bulls with a fascinating option -him playing at the point guard position!