Wilkins says ‘guys not afraid to lose’ will bring back glory of NBA Dunk Contest
MANILA, Philippines—Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins offered a timely suggestion for future participants in the Slam Dunk Contest, one of the centerpiece events in the NBA All-Star festivities but has lacked the glorious luster it once had for the last several years.
Wilkins, a two-time Slam Dunk king dubbed as the Human Highlight Film, said the competition needs more daring dunkers.
“What I think we need to be added? Guys who are not afraid to lose. That’s the only thing you can add,” the 63-year-old Wilkins told reporters on Sunday during his NBA Cares youth clinic at Community Court in Mandaluyong.
Wilkins, known for his ferocious and perfectly executed windmill dunks, ruled one of the best dunk contests ever when he bested Michael Jordan in their aerial showdown in 1985 in Indianapolis. He won again in 1990 in Miami beating Kenny Smith in the final.
But more than the poster dunks he collected throughout his 17-year basketball career as a pro with two seasons in EuroLeague, Wilkins carved out a Hall of Fame career. Wilkins was a nine-time NBA All-Star, a scoring champion and had seven All-NBA selections. He posted NBA career averages of 24.8 points and 6.7 rebounds.
The 6-foot-8 forward, who is also a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, also said that more than anything else, the dunk contest is for the fans.
“You have to want to do it and you gotta want to do it for the fans, not for yourself,” said Wilkins, whose No. 21 jersey is immortalized by the Hawks where he is now serving as the team’s vice president.
After strings of underwhelming Slam Dunk Contests in the past editions, Philadelphia 76ers guard Mac McClung brought some pizzazz back to the competition to become one of the headlines in the 2023 All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City last February.