The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is usually the best part of All-Star Weekend. Since Larry Nance won the inaugural NBA dunk contest in 1984, the competition has been a staple of the event, where fans could watch their favorite NBA players try out dunks that couldn’t be performed in games. And it appeared to have a formula that could never get old: The best NBA players in the world trying to push the art of the dunk to new heights.
But nope, it got old.
Now this is my opinion, but the dunk contest hasn’t really been the same since Dwight Howard stopped competing. The lone exceptions to this are when JaVale McGee and Blake Griffin battled it out in 2011, and when Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine gave us one of the best dunk contests of all time in 2016. But when you exclude those anomalies, it’s easier to see that the contest, system, and formula are starting to age poorly.
Since the the dunk contest came back in 2000 (David Stern “gave it a rest” in 1998 and 1999), the league has tried to switch and tinker with the contest to keep us interested.
- Fan voting.
2. The dunk wheel.
3. That weird freestyle round where everyone was dunking at the same time.
Through all of this, one thing hasn’t changed: The highest possible score in the dunk contest is a 50. The 50 is how we immortalize some of the best dunks of all time, and these select dunks stand in a club high above the rest.
However, think of this “50s club” as the baseball hall of fame: When you see all of these dunks, you’ll realize that some are missing for random reasons and others somehow squeaked their way in. But, no one has ever gone back and investigated which 50s are better than others.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have looked at every NBA dunk contest perfect score with the sole purpose of rescoring and ranking them. Not all 50s were created equal and it’s about time we rescale the best of the best.
Before we begin, I’m going to explain the criteria that I used to score this contest. Remember: This is my opinion and I’m happy to be wrong on these. I just really wanted to spend two weeks charting dunks.
Also remember: These new scores are relative to the other dunks on this list and NOT the other dunks from the contest from which they came. Imagine if all these dunks on the list were in the same contest. Like a musical festival but with dunking.