NBA All-Star weekend is a fast break away.
And as basketball fans gear up for the biggest names in the game — from Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry representing the Western Conference to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade representing the Eastern — to hit the court this Sunday at Madison Square Garden, much of the high-flying drama will take place a day earlier at co-host venue Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is one of the weekend’s top-drawing attractions, introducing sports fans to young talent, a soaring showmanship and a mix of athletes who appear to defy gravity.
This year’s lineup features four up-and-comers, including Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Orlando Magic’s Victor Oladipo and Mason Plumlee of the Brooklyn Nets.
In the past, slam dunk champions have jumped over cars. They’ve leapt way above the heads of fellow teammates. And some even intrigued the imagination with ladders, chairs and all sorts of other props.
Regardless of the cheer-drawing jams, the event appropriately shines the spotlight on the other stars: athletic brands.
From the technical to the retro, the big brands definitely play a part in taking each player to new heights.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a few of the more memorable dunks over the years.
Sure, we all remember Michael Jordan — in his Nikes, of course — taking off from the foul line in 1988.
Watch him go head-to-head in the slam dunk finals with Dominique Wilkins. (Hint: Things really heat up at the 34:31 mark.)
But what about Anthony “Spud” Webb, the 5-foot-7 dynamo who won hearts and inspired every kid who wasn’t super tall in 1986 when he beat Wilkins, then better known as the “Human Highlight Reel.”
And what about in 1991, when Dee Brown gave a promotional shout-out of sorts to the Reebok Pump. Before his electrifying throw-down, he bent over and pumped up his shoes.
Who could forget Blake Griffin in 2011? Laced up in bright-orange Nikes, the Los Angeles Clipper soared well above a Kia to capture the title.
Tell us who you think should take the title for best slam dunker of all time @footwearnews.