If you make a list of the greatest dunkers in NBA history and don’t include Dominique Wilkins, it’s a bad list. Wilkins, who won the Slam Dunk contest in 1985 and 1990, is one of the greatest dunkers – and players – to ever stuff a ball in a hoop.
Wilkins, fittingly, will judge the Slam Dunk contest this Saturday in New Orleans.
“What I’m looking for is the creativity and degree of difficulty in each dunk,” the Hall of Famer said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “The thing that I tell guys is don’t leave anything at home. Bring out your best stuff. Even though your last dunk might not be as good as the dunk before, you still put yourself in a great situation to win.”
The event will feature four participants: Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, Los Angeles’ DeAndre Jordan, Indiana’s Glenn Robinson III, and Phoenix’s Derrick Jones Jr.
Of the four, Jones is the least known.
“I hear a lot of guys talk about him and what he’s done down in the D-League and what he does in practice and things like that,” Wilkins said. “I don’t know that much about him, but it’s going to be interesting.”
Jordan, meanwhile, is the first big man to participate in the Dunk Contest since Dwight Howard.
“I feel like it’s going to be a fun contest, even though Zach LaVine is not participating,” Wilkins said, referring to the two-time defending champion.
The Dunk Contest should be a nice appetizer for Sunday’s All-Star Game, which may or may not feature some drama between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
Wilkins hopes both superstars can put their differences aside this weekend.
“First of all, it’s the All-Star Game,” he said. “It’s for the fans. I think you have to put your personal (issues) aside and go out and you got to perform for the fans. You can resume your hatred of each other (when the regular season resumes). But the All-Star Game is for the fans. I think that’s the thing they have to look at more so than anything else.
“I think they’ll find a way to figure out,” Wilkins continued. “I really do. At the end of the day, it’s about the All-Star Game. It’s about showcasing your talents. But there’s some tempers there. They have some bad blood between those guys obviously. They got to put those differences aside, at least for a weekend.”
Wilkins was also asked about Charles Oakley. Seeing the former Knick arrested at Madison Square Garden was surreal.
“It’s hard to imagine anything like that, especially a guy who (played for) your organization,” Wilkins said. “I know Oakley very well. We are very close friends. I think a lot of Oak. Hopefully they can resolve that as men and move on. I know that the temperatures are still kind of flaring with that situation. My hope is that they can continue to work this thing out. . . . It’s hard to say what went on because we wasn’t there. It’s hard to say what really happened. But again, I think the world of Oak. There’s a lot of people that think the world of Oak (and hope) that situation works itself out. I don’t know how they work it out because it seems like it’s getting worse. Hopefully they can come to some type of resolution.”
Either way, the Dunk Contest should be a nice reprieve from what has been a drama-filled NBA season. It would be wonderful to see the 57-year-old Wilkins turn back the clock and put on a show Saturday, but that is unlikely.
“I dunked probably about two weeks ago,” Wilkins said, pausing before the punchline, “but it took me a week to warm up.”