Ever since the 1984 All-Star game when the first Dunk Contest was organized during the All-Star Weekend, the event has been one of the most popular and anticipated showcases of every NBA season. Unfortunately, this season, we probably won’t have an All-Star weekend or a Dunk Contest, so at least we can reminisce about some of the most memorable, in particular the 1996 Dunk Contest.
It wasn’t the best or most exciting by any means, but it gave us the most surprising and different winner, with rookie Brent Barry taking home the trophy. The fun fact is that he is the first and only white player ever to win the dunk contest (apologies to Blake Griffin and Zach LaVine). Many people also remember the 1996 competition because of Darrell Armstrong and his famous layup in the Dunk Contest. It was a very weird night.
Barry was a rookie for the LA Clippers, who were a pretty bad team at the time. But never the less Barry showed some promise and was an instant fan favorite with his sneaky athleticism and court vision. That would lead to him being invited to the dunk contest, even though initially he didn’t want to participate. In the end, his teammates would convince him to give it a try.
He performed a couple of self lob dunks, 360’s, and off the bounce dunks, only to finish it off with an “MJ-like” free throw line dunk. All while uniquely wearing his warm-up jacket. He went back to the free-throw line dunk in the final round and managed to pull out the victory, beating the likes of Michael Finley and Greg Minor.
Barry decided not to defend his crown next year, as he had nothing more to give in his words. Kobe Bryant would be his successor as the champion in the 1997 Dunk Contest. The perfect example of Barry’s nonchalant attitude about winning is that he converted his trophy into a fancy candy dish. Indeed, although not the most attractive, the 1996 Dunk Contest had one of the more unique winners and displays in history.