The Slam dunk contest in the modern NBA lost some of its charms. It used to be the place of the epic battles among the league’s best sky flyers. In the old day’s players would use only their God-given abilities to create something unique for the fans. Nowadays, players can use all the props they wish, but they still don’t generate excitement like in the past. So, without further ado, let’s rank the slam dunk contests of the 2010s.
10. 2014 – Host: New Orleans – John Wall
The NBA tried to change the format of the contest by making teams of best dunkers from each conference. In the first round, they competed as a team, and later on, they had individual dunks. This format was terrible for the viewers as it got boring pretty soon, even though these are the best athletes in the world. The one detail that will be remembered is the Ben Macklemore jumping over a sitting Shaquille O’Neal and getting crowned after it. All of these antics weren’t enough to move 2014 from the bottom of our list.
9. 2013 – Host: Houston – Terrence Ross
In Houston, the art of dunking was put on the painting by Jeremy Evans, which was the only original part of that contest. The dunks themselves wasn’t something we haven’t already seen, but at least Ross was thinking outside of the box. The rest of the dunks were not very memorable; crowd reactions were also not spectacular. The only thing to remember other than the painting is the name of the winner – Terrence Ross.
8. 2010 – Host: Dallas – Nate Robinson
The first dunk contest of the decade was a snooze fest and lacked personality. The only memorable thing was Nate Robinson winning his third title in a row. Even though the list of the contestants looked competitive on writing: Nate Robinson, Gerald Wallace, Demar DeRozan, and Shanon Brown, the dunks were unimaginative. Nate Robinson’s role in the dunk contest was less critical since his rival Dwight Howard was not even competing, so his third title is the least exciting one.
7. 2019 – Host: Charlotte – Hamidou Diallo
Last year’s contest gave us a great Kodak moment with the winner Hamidou Diallo jumping over Shaq, sticking his elbow in the rim. While hanging Diallo payed his respect to Shaq with a Superman undershirt. Unfortunately, the rest of his dunks were pretty generic, as he already knew he won. His only real threat Denis Smith Jr tried his best with the dunk over J Cole, but he was left without the trophy.
6. 2017 – Host: New Orleans – Glenn Robinson III
Once again, in New Orleans, the spectators were not satisfied with what they saw. Glenn Robinson was the winner, and his most memorable dunk was an eye-pleaser. Jumping over three people clean with no push-off, which is a prime example of a true athlete. DeAndre Jordan was a letdown as we realized that he is an in-game dunker, more than anything else. Aaron Gordon’s bag of tricks was empty after a mesmerizing performance the year before.
5. 2018 – Los Angeles – Donovan Mitchell
Now we get to the top 5, and we start with the dunk contest that showed quite a bit of creativity. Larry Nance paid tribute to the legendary dunk his father made on the first-ever dunk contest. He showed incredible bounce and should have gotten a better reaction from the crowd after he made a Vince Carter like a dunk. Nance jumped behind the basket, rotated, and finished it off with a windmill. The winner, Spidey Mitchel, had a nice-looking dunk. He bounced the ball of the one board caught it and dunked it – the boards were not even inline. The first one was a little bit behind, making this dunk even sweeter. Like Larry Nance, Mitchel also paid tribute to Vince Carter in one of his dunks. It was a slick 360 windmill dunk while wearing Carter’s Raptors jersey.
4. 2015 – Brooklyn – Zach Lavine
That was one memorable dunk contest with Zach Lavine showing us what it looks like to effortlessly dunk even the most complicated dunks. He jumped like he had springs on and left everybody in aw while performing behind the back dunk, between the legs and other spectacular slams. Victor Oladipo tried to bring back AND 1 in the building after he completed the first-ever 540-degree dunk in the history of the contest. But in the end, the gracefulness of Lavine was enough for him to hold the trophy. This year was a prelude for the epic 2016.
3. 2011 – Los Angeles – Blake Griffin
Once again, in LA, the crowd had something to see; we’ll start with JaVale McGee, who had two solid dunks. The first dunk was a tough, one arm reverse dunk, and the second one was troublesome to execute by dunking two balls through two different hoops. Serge Ibaka completed a free-throw dunk, and yes, he did not jump off the line; he cleared it. On another dunk, he put his head high enough to bite off the toy and dunk the ball – underrated dunk on with only 45 points on the scorecard. But the winner and the biggest showman was Blake Griffin. Griffin pulled all the tricks out of his hat by exhibiting a jaw-dropping of the backboard dunk. He also added some extra flavor with sticking his arm through the rim. To finish things off, he jumped over the car while the choir was singing, so we had a real Broadway show on the dunk contest.
2. 2012 – Orlando – Jeremy Evans
In Florida, the dunk contest was a crowd-pleaser. Chase Budinger’s name you probably forgot but he started the show with his version of a white men can’t jump dunk, and other contestants followed. Paul George dunked over 7 ft 2 Roy Hibbert and in pitch black arena pulled of a 360-windmill dunk, which sucked the air out of the building. 2012 was the beginning of Paul George’s rise to stardom, something we are all enjoying all these years. That year’s winner, Jeremy Evans was amazing completing a two-ball dunk but also jumping over Kevin Hart. This dunk contest was complete with several amazing dunks, something other dunk contests on our list didn’t have to such degree.
1. 2016 – Toronto – Zach Lavine
What happens when two guys with the most bounce in the NBA meet in the dunk contest? It becomes a contest for the ages. This dunk contest is the one we all talked about for a month and remember it fondly. Andre Drumond and Will Barton were the supporting cast in this contest, Aaron Gordon and Zach Lavine took over and made it epic. Aaron Gordon used Orlando mascot and made a couple of extraordinary dunks. The one we all remember is the one under both legs and one hand 360 slam, which was a pure spectacle for the viewers. But last year champion Zach Lavine out dunked him with a couple of remarkable dunks. One was a free-throw windmill and behind the backboard between the legs dunk. Some may say that Aaron Gordon was robbed of the title as he did steal the show with his creativity, but we’ll let you decide on that. Just play the highlights and let yourselves be amazed once again with this one.
That was an intro to the new decade, where we want to be amazed once again with the creativity and pure athleticism of the NBA players. There are quite a few great contestants this year as well, so hopefully, we’ll start of the decade in the right way when it comes to one of the most exciting aspects of this beautiful game.