We don't often see rare footage from the dunk contests outside of the NBA, especially those featuring a few NBA legends. However, a week ago, a video resurfaced of none other than Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins participating in a friendly dunk contest and a pick-up game in St. Louis for Independence Day back in 1986.
Rare footage of an Independence Day pick-up game
We've all seen the legendary matchups between Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan during those NBA Slam Dunk Contests and their career playing against each other. However, it's also great when a gem like this pops out because it shows us how athletically gifted these players were in their prime years.
Up until that point, Dominique Wilkins was considered by some a better dunker than Jordan, and his style of dunking was different. Dominique was more of a power dunker, while Jordan was a finesse dunker, making some of the hardest dunks look incredibly effortless. When they both showed up at the event, Jordan said being a great dunker is all about having creativity while in the air.
"Having creativity in the air, that is what it means, and when you get up there, you can do different things with the basketball."
Wilkins, who was one of the most athletic guys in the league at the time, said there are a lot of great leapers in the NBA; however, a few players stand out.
"There are a lot of guys in this league that can leap, but there are some guys that can just jump out of the gym."
Both Jordan and Dominique also revealed the first time they dunked the ball. Dominique did it in the 8th grade, while Jordan remembers doing it in the 9th grade. He was so excited that he didn't initially realize that it was his first dunk.
"In 8th grade, I did my first dunk, and it was a one-handed dunk; and I always practiced dunking, but the 8th grade is when I really had my first one."
"I was in the 9th grade, and I didn't know I really dunked the ball. I went up with the intention of dunking it, and I was so happy that I did it that I didn't know I was doing it."
Jordan and Wilkins squared off in several dunk contests
After this pick-up game in St. Louis, Jordan and Dominique would square off against each other in one more dunk contest, and that was in 1988. Jordan won two more dunk contests in 1987 when Wilkins was out because of an injury and in an epic 1988 dunk contest showdown between the two legends. Jordan and Dominique embodied the slam dunk contest in the second part of the 80s, further popularizing the event that now lost its interest among the audience and no longers brings the same type of excitement.
It's great to see this rare footage where you can see two young superstars of the NBA showing out to promote the game while giving the fans some pretty memorable moments. Some of the moves caught on camera that day were astonishing, and many players in the NBA nowadays wouldn't be able to do what these two legends did during those few hours playing pick-up ball in St.Louis. Moments like these make the game so great, where players themselves are the most prominent ambassadors and source of inspiration for all the fans out there.