The NBA was very different from the high-scoring three-point shooting league that it currently is right now. During the 70s, the league was mostly filled with inside shooting and transition buckets. The ‘dunk’ eventually entered the league with Julius Irving who often used to attack the rim while he was on the court. But it was not until a decade later when Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins made it a common move.
Both Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins were pioneers of the art of dunking. During the 80s, both players brought a whole new feel to the dunk contest with their creativity. There were many battles between the two players that gathered enormous crowds every time they faced each other in the dunk contest.
Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins built the All-Star dunk contest
During the 80s, the two players had a serious rivalry going on between each other. Many dunkers of today’s game have been inspired by MJ and Wilkins. We see many players making references to their dunks, for example, Zach LaVine during the 2016 dunk contest recreated the iconic Jordan free-throw line jam with a windmill.
The first time both players had met was during the 1985 All-Star events and Wilkins had emerged victorious. Fans were eager to witness a long-awaited rematch in 1987 but Wilkins had to pull out due to a back injury he had endured before the event which allowed the Chicago Bulls legend to take over the throne. A year later, Wilkins had returned to the dunk contest to show who was the actual champ. Being the obvious winner, Wilkins seemed optimistic until the judges’ decision went in favor of MJ. This was thus labeled a very controversial dunk contest.
Michael Jordan admits that Dominique Wilkins should have won the 88’ dunk contest
During the NBA history show, Wilkins revealed new information regarding the controversial slam dunk contest. He said, “Dunking was fun for me. When Michael and I had that dunk contest in Chicago, it wasn’t about us. It was about the fans. And no matter who won, the fans got their money’s worth. Now, did I think I won? Yeah, of course! Funny thing. Michael, about a year ago I went up to say hello to him, and before he even answered, he said ‘Yeah, you won.’ And I said, ‘Well, how you doin, Mike?”
Being MJ, it would have been extremely hard to admit that he had lost especially because he hated losing under any circumstances. But as much as many fans believed the Atlanta Hawks legend should have won, the duo brought fans to their feet with their amazing dunks. They were two of the most athletic stars in the league at the time.