Classic Showdown – ‘Nique vs. MJ
by Jon Newberry
The 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest is widely regarded as the best of all-time, thanks to the performances turned in by Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins.
The contest included an impressive field overall, but everyone was buzzing about the anticipated showdown between Wilkins (1985 champion) and Jordan (1987 champion). The two had faced off when MJ was a rookie in 1985, but that was before his popularity had shot through the roof and he had transformed into Michael “Air” Jordan.
While there have been dunk contests with two big stars duking it out, this one generated more hype and interest for several reasons. All-star weekend was being held in Chicago, with Jordan’s fan base attending in full force. Furthermore, these weren’t just two athletic players that play a small role on their teams. Entering the weekend, Jordan and Wilkins were the top two scorers in the league. Finally, Wilkins and Jordan were two of the most colorful and exciting stars in the league. They had been christened the “Human Highlight Film” and “His Airness”.
With all the buzz and excitement leading into the competition, there was plenty of pressure on Jordan and Wilkins to deliver. They responded with a performance that has added a great chapter to their legendary careers. Check out the video to see for yourself.
The only thing questionable about the contest was whether or not the right champion was crowned. Many believe that ‘Nique really outperformed MJ in the finals. Even the participants themselves don’t sound convinced that Jordan really deserved the title that night.
“You know, there is ‘home cooking’ in every walk of life,” Wilkins told CSN Chicago just last spring, flashing just a small hint of a smile. “It happens. Honestly speaking, that was just a great contest between two guys. Could have gone either way.”
Jordan has also admitted that his home court advantage may have given him a boost with the final scores.
What do you think? Weigh in now on the Hawks official message boards at HighlightFactory.com.