pcloudyn.png
Friday February 21st, 2020 7:34AM

Jordan, Wilkins reflect on memorable '88 dunk contest battle

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CHICAGO (AP) — Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins have never talked to one another about the 1988 dunk contest.

They might be the only ones.

It is still the dunk contest by which all other dunk contests are measured: Two stars, at the peak of their powers, the players who finished first and second in that season’s scoring standings, going head-to-head to decide a winner. Jordan left the old Chicago Stadium that night with the trophy. To this day, many believe Wilkins was the rightful winner. Either way, it was a never-to-be-forgotten show — and now, for the first time since that night 32 years ago, the dunk contest is returning to Chicago on Saturday night.

“I did have a homecourt advantage, yes,” Jordan said this week in an interview with The Associated Press.

“The fans got their money’s worth,” Wilkins said in a separate interview with AP.

This season’s dunk contest entrants — Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr., the Los Angeles Lakers’ Dwight Howard and Milwaukee’s Pat Connaughton — will have quite a show to follow if what they do on Saturday is going to stand the test of time that the Jordan-Wilkins contest has.

To this day, Wilkins believes he should have won.

And to this day, he still tips his cap to what Jordan did that night.

“We were foes and we had some great battles, but he understood the moment,” Wilkins said. “He understood what we did, you know? So, for us, there’s no hard feelings. There's no animosity. We love the fact that they still talk about it because we knew what we brought.”

None of this year’s four dunk contest participants are All-Stars. It was different 32 years ago, when the dunk contest was being held for only the fifth time. Jordan was the MVP in 1988, Wilkins was sixth in that season’s MVP voting, and they were the only players that season who averaged more than 30 points per game.

“It’s a little bit different today. And it’s probably much harder today because how many times can you do the same dunks over and over again?” Jordan said. “So, they are trying to create things that people haven’t seen and that means jumping over people and cars and stuff like that. We didn’t have to do that because we didn’t have anything preceding us.”

The 1988 field was stacked. Wilkins had won in 1985. Spud Webb won in 1986. Jordan won in 1987. They were all in the field, along with Greg Anderson, Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey and Otis Smith.

“My memories more so than anything was that I was representing Chicago,” Jordan said. “I just wanted to represent them well. I wanted to win, don’t get me wrong. But I also knew Dominique was an unbelievable dunker and very athletic and a human highlight film. So, I had to come up with certain things that are very special and unique.”

Of course, it came down to Wilkins vs. Jordan. Three dunks each to decide the title. Both got a perfect score — 50 — on their first dunk in the final round. Wilkins got another 50 in the second round, with Jordan getting only a 47. That meant Wilkins, who was first to dunk in each round of the finals, needed only a 48 to clinch the win over Jordan.

Wilkins went with a two-handed windmill for his final dunk. The judges’ score: 45. Drexler looked on in disbelief.

“I was surprised at his score,” Jordan said.

The door was open for Jordan. He tried a dunk from the foul line and missed, but the rules allowed two chances per attempt. The second effort is the one replayed about a billion times since: He took off from just inside the foul line, pulled the ball back a bit before finishing off the slam, and got the perfect score of 50.

Final score: Jordan 147, Wilkins 145.

“The dunk contest, Nique got robbed,” said Doc Rivers, the Los Angeles Clippers coach who that year was an All-Star representing Atlanta — Wilkins’ team as well — in his hometown of Chicago. “But other than that, it was a perfect weekend.”

The dunk contest has had its ups and downs since.

It went away for a couple of years. Fred Jones, a journeyman who played for five teams in seven seasons, was the 2004 champion. Jeremy Evans — he averaged 3.5 points per game in his career — won in 2012. The NBA tried a team concept with three guys representing each conference in 2014; it wasn’t well received. Only the most ardent fan probably remembers that last year’s winner was Hamidou Diallo.

There have been some stars: Kobe Bryant won in 1997 and Vince Carter prevailed in 2000, a win that still draws raves from Jordan.

The highest compliment, in fact.

“The most amazing dunk I have ever seen is probably Vince Carter when he hung his elbow in the rim,” Jordan said. “To me that was, without question, just unbelievable.”

But most of the biggest names — and many considered among the best dunkers of their generation — have taken a pass on the dunk contest. LeBron James has never entered one, nor has Russell Westbrook, and Dwyane Wade didn’t either.

“I’d have loved to have seen LeBron,” Wilkins said.

Jordan agreed, saying he knows fans are clamoring to have seen James try it at least once.

“What we did in the game and excitement that we created when we did dunk,” Jordan said. “People wanted to see that. Is it the same today? Maybe not.”

___

Reed reported from Charlotte, North Carolina.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Sports - NBA
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
A's Kemp chose not to be part of Astros' 2017 sign-stealing
New Oakland infielder Tony Kemp got called up by Houston in September 2017 and says he was asked whether he wanted to be part of the Astros' sign-stealing system
1:59PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Jimmy Hoffa associate who was suspect in disappearance dies
Charles “Chuckie” O'Brien, a longtime associate of Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa who became a leading suspect in Hoffa's disappearance, has died
1:54PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Goodrich: Jordan won fairly in 1988, judges not in cahoots
More than three decades later, some details of the classic slam dunk contest showdown between Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins are a bit fuzzy to Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich
1:51PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Blues' Bouwmeester has implant to help regulate heart rhythm
The St. Louis Blues say Jay Bouwmeester had surgery Friday to insert a defibrillator to restore his heart's normal rhythm
1:07PM ( 1 hour ago )
Minnesota Wild fire coach Bruce Boudreau
The Minnesota Wild have fired coach Bruce Boudreau
12:01PM ( 2 hours ago )
Ex-coach: `No recollection' of discussion about Nassar abuse
A former Michigan State University gymnastics coach says she has “no recollection” of a conversation in which two teen athletes allegedly told her of sexual abuse by sports doctor Larry Nassar in 1997, nearly 20 years before he was charged
11:01AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Sports
No 'Plan B' for Olympics; questions over Chinese presence
Tokyo Olympic organizers and the International Olympic Committee say there's “no case for any contingency plans or cancelling" the 2020 Games because of the fast spreading virus that has caused one death in Japan and about 1,400 in mainland China
7:53AM ( 6 hours ago )
Gallinari, Paul push Thunder past Zion, Pelicans 123-118
Danilo Gallinari scored 29 points, Chris Paul had 14 points and 12 assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 123-118
12:19AM ( 13 hours ago )
Kuchar shoots 64 to lead Riviera; Tiger wastes strong start
Matt Kuchar had a rounde that matched the great weather at Riviera
8:51PM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
Braves pitcher Felix Hernandez says he's healthy, feels good
Felix Hernandez’s presence is one of the early sub plots for the Atlanta Braves
3:17PM ( 22 hours ago )
Newspaper chain McClatchy files for bankruptcy protection
McClatchy, the publisher of the Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star and dozens of other newspapers nationwide, is filing for bankruptcy protection
3:06PM ( 23 hours ago )
McClatchy has 30 papers in 14 states, operations continue
McClatchy, which has filed for bankruptcy protection, operates 30 newspapers in 14 states
12:50PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
Jennifer Hudson set for Kobe Bryant tribute at All-Star Game
Jennifer Hudson is coming to the All-Star Game to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant with her voice
4:09PM ( 22 hours ago )
Booker to replace Lillard at All-Star, 3-point contest
Devin Booker is finally headed to his first NBA All-Star Game
11:52AM ( 1 day ago )
Jennifer Hudson to do a Kobe Bryant tribute at All-Star Game
Jennifer Hudson is coming to the All-Star Game to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant with her voice
7:00AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Sports - NBA
Jimmy Hoffa associate who was suspect in disappearance dies
Charles “Chuckie” O'Brien, a longtime associate of Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa who became a leading suspect in Hoffa's disappearance, has died
1:54PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Goodrich: Jordan won fairly in 1988, judges not in cahoots
More than three decades later, some details of the classic slam dunk contest showdown between Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins are a bit fuzzy to Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich
1:51PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Full board of France's Cesar film awards steps down
The entire leadership of the Cesar Awards, France's version of the Oscars, has stepped down in a spat over its opaque decision-making process and a dispute involving director Roman Polanski, whose new film leads this year's nominations
1:40PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Prosecutor: Weinstein saw victims as 'complete disposables'
Prosecutors completed their closing argument Friday at Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial by saying he considered himself such a big shot in Hollywood that he thought he could get away with treating aspiring actresses as “complete disposables
1:39PM ( 37 minutes ago )
Virus cases rise as experts question China's numbers
 A Chinese health official says more than 1,700 medical workers have been infected by the new virus and six have died
1:38PM ( 37 minutes ago )