The time Candace Parker beat Josh Smith, J.R. Smith and, Rudy Gay in a dunk contest
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The time Candace Parker beat Josh Smith, J.R. Smith and, Rudy Gay in a dunk contest

When? Monday, March 29th, 2004.
Where? A high school gymnasium located in Oklahoma City,
Who? A 17-year old Candance Parker would make history by becoming the first woman ever to win the McDonalds High School All-American Dunk Contest.

At the time, Candace Parker was a senior in high school and was proclaimed by some to be the female LeBron James in the making. She was already committed to Tennesse and ready to show the world what she’s got at the college level. But before that, Candace would find her way into the spotlight before that by participating in the dunk contest at the McDonald’s High School All-American Game.

The competition was stacked with numerous future NBA players in the competition. Names like Rudy Gay, Josh Smith, and J.R. Smith were all seniors ready to jump out of the gym. All of these players would later participate in the NBA Dunk Contest. Candace was the outsider, but she had the crowd behind her.

The 6’4” Parker showed off a few one-handed dunks, adding a bit flare with some behind-the-back moves or covering her eyes. Even though the other participants were pulling impressive athletic dunks, Parker got the most love from the crowd and judges and causing her to eventually winning it all.

The organization wanted her in the event because of the story and publicity it would bring, and it turned out to be a good idea. To see a female basketball player dunking and competing versus male players was a breath of fresh air. Maybe they went a bit too far with giving her the win even though the other participants had much better dunks. But graded on a scale, her dunks were no joke.

In the end, it was more about the message of equality and female empowerment. Candace Parker built a remarkable WNBA career. She is still playing for the Chicago Sky and works as an analyst on Inside the NBA, where she occasionally schools legends like Shaq on the modern style of basketball.