Top NBA Dunk Contest Winners of All-Time

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Dwight Howard, U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball t...

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Back in the 80s, the NBA’s yearly slam dunk contest gave the league popularity that it could only dream of. Unfortunately, the event died out a bit and became a little stale throughout the 90s. As the 21st century rolled around, the league’s athleticism and showmanship came back to the contest once again, allowing it to reach all new heights. As a life-long hardcore fan of the NBA, I have truly enjoyed seeing this event come back into popularity. It is easily the biggest thing I look forward to during each All-Star Weekend. Let’s take a look at who I think are the greatest dunk champions of all-time.

  • Dwight Howard – 2008 Champion

Although “Superman” won only one slam dunk contest, he also gets an assist in Nate Robinson’s 2009 victory. Sadly for Dwight, the fans and judges are usually wowed more by smaller NBA players who are participating. However, Howard is easily the greatest big player to ever bring home the title. Dwight defeated Gerald Green in the finals, and is also one of a handful of players to ever receive a first round perfect score of 100, doing it in both 2008 and 2009.

  • Nate Robinson – 2006, 2009 and 2010 Champion

Because of his size, many fans feel that Nate won his slam dunk contests with his style more than actual ability. Even still, Robinson holds more NBA slam dunk contest wins than any other player in the history of the event. His most memorable dunk is from 2009, as he jumped and dunked over one of the men he defeated, Dwight Howard. Others to be defeated by Robinson in the final round are DeMar DeRozan (2010) and Andre Iguodala (2006).

  • Spud Webb – 1986 Champion

I couldn’t resist adding Spud onto my list of favorites. There is just something about a guy this much under 6-feet tall who can dunk with ease. I know what you are thinking, Michael Jordan wasn’t in the 86’ contest so it doesn’t count. Hey, it wasn’t Spud’s fault he wasn’t there, and Spud knocked off Dominique Wilkins in the final with a perfect score.

  • Dominique Wilkins – 1985 and 1990 Champion

Many people don’t remember this, but there was a debate in the 80s as to who was the top young star in the NBA, Dominique or Michael Jordan. This debate was fueled by their epic slam dunk contest battles. Wilkins beat Jordan in the final to capture his 1985 crown.

  • Michael Jordan – 1987 and 1988 Champion

Could there possibly be a list of NBA “bests” for any category, and have it not include MJ? Long before Jordan wrapped up his six NBA crowns with the Bulls, he was dazzling fans and his peers with incredible dunking skills. Jordan beat Jerome Kersey for the 1987 title and got his revenge on Wilkins by defeating him for the 1988 title. He is easily the best dunk winner we may ever see, and the reason he only won twice is because he chose to not enter many times.

Believe it or not, almost all of these players are not active now but have Twitter profiles! Check it out by doing free people search and finding their profiles instantly. Good luck!

The Cavs are a 1972 Comet with a Ferrari engine.

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Our Comet is old and looks slow. But the horsepower provided by the engine will eventually tear the car apart.

The Cavs won last night. Lebron James, the Ferrari engine, had a direct hand in the last 32 points by his team. He either scored or had an assist on each of those shots. The problem for the Cavs is no matter how this series turns out the team needs to be reworked this off season if they want to have any chance to keep Lebron in town after June 2010.

The Cavs are fine as they stand for the regular season. They feed nicely on the Knicks, Wizards, Pacers and such. They can win at home against the Bulls and Celtics. The problem is that in the playoffs, they have one REALLY bad match-up—The Magic. And unless the Cavs can win a title this year or next, Lebron is most likely going to go to a team that can. Could you even imagine how good the Magic would be with Lebron? Would you rather spend the winter in Orlando or Cleveland?

If Lebron went to the Magic, that team would win 6 or 7 straight titles.

Due to the Bird exception in the salary cap, the Cavs are going to be able to offer Lebron more money than any other team. But money is not what motivates Lebron. He is a winner. He doesn’t want to be saddled with a team that wins in the regular season but falls short in the playoffs.

What the Cavs have:

In the NBA, it is not a question of what a team should do to improve. It is a question of what a team CAN do to improve. With guaranteed contracts, NBA players are a lot like the Scud Missile under Saadam—You can’t fire it and you can’t make it work. But the Cavs should have a lot of wiggle room in the 09 off season.

Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak, and Lorenzen Wright are unrestricted FA at the end of the season. That should free up over 29 mil in salary cap. In addition, Zydrunas Ilgauskas has an early termination option (ETO) in his contract. The team could lose him as well freeing up another 10.8 mil.

After next season, Sasha Pavlovic and Ben Wallace are free agents in addition to James with his player option. Together the three will provide 33 million in free money.

Anderson Varejao has a player option. If he doesn’t like what the Cavs are doing, he is likely to go. He has played fairly well this season. He is not starting quality but would be an excellent off the bench energy player for a contender.

What the Cavs need:

The series against Orlando makes one thing clear—to win championships they are going to have to beat the Magic in the playoffs over the next few years. They can not do that now.

The most critical needs for the Cavs are a reliable 3 point scorer and a quick big man with the feet to defend Howard and rebound. The Cavs had a chance to bring Ohio State alum SG Michael Redd to Cleveland a couple of years ago but did not. He is a consistent 3 point gunslinger.

The plan of all plans for the Cavs (that will never happen but should):

Kobe Bryant has an ETO in his contract this season. He want the max contract but he wants to win more. Bring Bryant in to pair with Lebron. You have 33 mil next year to give to Lebron. If Bryant comes in, Ilgauskas will stay. That would provide the Cavs with the scoring they need and one more outstanding defensive force. You can find another D player with a little scoring ability for the mid range exception.

Would Bryant come to Cleveland? Good question. To win a couple of titles, he might. There is no question that Bryant wanted to prove that he could win a title without Shaq. But given a chance with a short contract, he might be willing to come.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA,Playoffs,Cavilers,Magic,salary cap,Howard,Lebron,James,Redd,Bryant,Kobe Bryant,Knicks,Wizards,Pacers,Bulls,Celtics

NBA Commissioner Stern is breathing again.

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The Commissioner’s wife was ready to dial 911 last night during the Laker Nugget game. Had the Nuggets won, she would have had to make the call. But when the Lakers won game 5 to take a 3 games to 2 lead in the series, she was able to go to bed without fear.

The NBA’s worst fear was that the final would not include either Lebron James and the Cavs or Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Stern and the networks can live with only one of the super stars of the league in the finals.

LA should win the series with the Nuggets in 7 games. Orlando will probably win the Cleveland series in 6 or 7 games.

Orlando is an outstanding team. They have the future of the all star center in Dwight Howard. But Howard is not a brand name yet. If he ever gets the offensive side of his game together he will become the dominant C in the league. In addition to Howard, the Magic has 4 other players scoring in double figures in the Cavs series. They are balanced and dangerous team.

Orlando will be dominant in the East for several years. As good as the Magic is now, it will be better next season when potential star Jameer Nelson comes back from injury. Their core players will be together for several seasons. Cleveland is a younger roster but their big men like Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ben Wallace are old and are not getting faster with age. The youth of the Cavs is at the end of the bench. And the lack of production from the Cavs bench is a major reason the team has fallen two games behind the Magic.

The Nuggets are coming on as well. This was the first time Denver got past the first round of the playoffs in a number of years. They will have gained a lot of playoff experience this season. They will be back again to challenge the Lakers for several years to come. The Nuggets’ key players are not as young as Orlando so their time at the top of the West will be shorter.

And what about the Cavs’ future? A lot will be determined in Cleveland tonight. Even more will be known in Orlando on Saturday. If the Cavs win the next two, they have a chance to survive the Magic. The chances of that are slim and none. And slim is on life support. But I will discuss that tomorrow. We will know more then.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA,Playoffs,Cavilers,Nuggets,Magic,Lakers,James,Bryant,Howard,Stern

The Cavs are in SERIOUS trouble.

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Saturday’s Niblets will return next week. Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend and thank a Veteran for his or her service to our freedom.

In 50+ years of watching basketball, I have never seen anything close to what I saw last night from Superman Lebron James. Forget the fact that there was only one second left. Forget the fact that the Cavs were 2 points behind. Forget the fact that they had given back a 23 point lead. This was The biggest shot in Cavs history because their survival in the series depended on the shot going in. The Cavs chances of keeping Lebron in town after 2010 depends a lot on winning a championship or two.

I consider myself qualified to make such a statement. I have been a Cavs fan since they came into the league. Along with a few thousand other fans, I suffered through the Walt Westley Bingo Smith era. I was there when in the old downtown arena the Cavs beat the Lakers for the first time. When the team needed to raise money and sold stock, I bought some.

I also suffered through the playoff losses to Michael Jordan. But this team was different. It had a killer instinct that previous Cavs teams lacked. Or at least it seemed like they did.

The fact that the Cavs lost 2 games at home in the playoffs against the Magic after having leads of 15 and 23 points is inexcusable. The Cavs lost that game last night. It was Lebron that won it rather than the Cavs as a team.

There are a number of things that point to a Magic win in the series. First, the Cavs can not seem to handle the pick and roll. Time and time again the Magic ran the P&R and got totally open shots because the Cavs defenders were too slow to provide defense on the ball. The Cavs were doubling Dwight Howard down low. The Magic adjusted and began to make the extra pass to a wide open 3 point shooter with great success. The Cavs never adjusted to the change and got burned. I am not convinced that Howard is enough of an offensive threat to warrant doubling the entire game. The Cavs have to get more pressure on the outside shooter to win the series.

At one time in his injury history, I was convinced that the word Ilgauskas was Greek for “man with bad feet.” I realize now that it refers to a 7 foot Greek statue. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is no match defensively for any of the Magic big men. Away from the basket Z is a defensive liability on anything that can move faster than a lamp post. Lebron is the only Cav with length that has the feet to guard any of the front line members of the Magic. Obviously, he can’t guard 3 guys at the same time.

The Cavs shot selection was abysmal. Mo Williams is in a slump shooting 13 for 40. No one other than Lebron is stepping up to fill in. When the Magic were making their comeback late in the 2nd quarter, time after time, the Cavs were taking long 2 point or 3 point shots. Ilgauskas was outside taking 15 to 18 foot 2 point shots with no one under the basket to provide an offensive rebound. That is just dumb. The Cavs are not a 3 point team. They don’t have a wealth of players that can hit those shots regularly. They are much more of a half court offense.

The successful Cav half court offense depended on ball movement. That requires movement of the players without the ball. In the critical period of the game with the Magic cutting the lead, the majority of the Cavs were standing around on the offensive end of the floor. They have to get back to Cavs offense—half court moving the ball around the floor and 4 guys without the ball working to get open. The Cavs seem to forget what got them the leads they have been able to build against Orlando.

Rebounding, particularly offensive rebounding has also been nonexistent in those periods when the Magic are making their charge. When the Cavs are cold from the outside, they have to get those second rebound shots to slow the charge. They go blocks of minutes without an O rebound.

While the Magic bench is providing excellent support, the Cavs bench has vanished. Joe Smith and Aleksandar Pavlovic have to step up on both ends of the floor. They haven’t so far in this series. Ben Wallace needs to provide more D than he has so far. Daniel Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak have been ignored totally.

The Cavs that are usually careful with the ball at the O end of the floor were giving the ball away like the Federal Government hands out money. That would be trouble for any team. It is ten times worse for a team that lacks the team foot speed to get back on defense after a turnover.

Worst of all, the Cavs seem to have lost their killer instinct. During the regular season, the Cavs would either get the lead of a dozen points then blow it up to 20 or more or at least finish off the game with the key shots and defensive stops to win. They are doing neither in the two games against the Magic. That has to change if the Cavs are going to get to the finals.

To win this series, the Cavs are going to have to figure out how to stop the P&R. Early in the game the Cavs were doubling the ball and getting stops. The Magic adjusted and began making the extra pass to an open 3 point shooter. The Cavs did not adjust and lost the lead. If they can’t figure out how to stop the P&R with the players that they have, they will get rolled right out of the playoffs.

Some of the pressure will transfer to the Magic for the two games in Orlando. To win the series, they really need to win both games. While the Magic may be able to win another game in Cleveland, they can’t count on that.

There is pressure in any playoff series. The situation has just escalated the pressure a bit on both teams.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: Cavilers,NBA,NBA Playoffs,Magic,James,1 second,Jordan,Lakers,Howard,Ilgauskas,Williams,Smith,Szczerbiak

Lebron's teamates had the most expensive seat in the house.

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Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals was a debacle for the Cavs. The loss was potentially devastating for the Cavs chances of getting their star the only thing he doesn’t have and wants—an NBA title. The problem was not rust after the long layoff. The Cavs started fine and built a double digit lead. The problem wasn’t an off night for Lebron—he scored 49. I can’t believe that the Cavs took the Magic lightly because they had just finished off the NBA champion Celtics.

The problem was that the other 4 starters for the Cavs had the most expensive seat in the house—standing on the floor watching Lebron take on the Magic alone.

I am a self admitted Cavs fan. That aside, I couldn’t believe that with less than 15 seconds left, the Cavs kicked the ball out for a 3 when they were only 1 point behind! With all star big man Dwight Howard on the bench with 6 fouls, take the ball to the hole!

The thing that worries Cav fans the most was watching the Cavs in the 4th quarter turn into Lebron and the 4 statues. He can do a lot but can’t beat the Magic all by himself.

This was the kind of game that the Cavs won regularly even when the Magic got close and took the lead in the last 2 minutes. They would come back and hit the last couple of shots then get a stop at a critical juncture to preserve the win. But Lebron’s mates were just standing there.

This was potentially a very expensive loss. The Cavs have to win a championship this year or next and preferably both in order to keep Lebron from leaving as a free agent. The key to this series will be games 2 and 3. If the Cavs come back and win the second game in Cleveland and then go to Orlando and win game 3 everything will be fine. But if the Cavs can’t take back home court advantage in the 2 games at Orlando, they could be in trouble.

Orlando has as good a team as the Cavs and maybe better. The Magic has no answer for Lebron. But Cleveland seems to have no answer for Howard. Rashard Lewis has been outstanding in the playoffs. Hedo Turkoglu has also been strong for the Magic.

For the Cavs Delonte West has stepped up during the playoffs but both Mo Williams and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are several points under their scoring per game in the regular season.

There is nothing in the NBA more exciting than watching Lebron James live in person. Cav fans will just have to hope the other 4 players on the floor don’t stop playing to enjoy the James show. If they do, the Cavs will be watching the finals from their living rooms.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA,NBA Playoffs,Cavilers,Magic,eastern conference finals,Howard,James,West,Turkoglu,Lewis,Ilgauskas,Williams,Celtics
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  • Published: May 14th, 2009
  • Category: NBA Basketball
  • Comments: Comments Off on NBA Playoffs—What have we learned?

NBA Playoffs—What have we learned?

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Here comes Lebron and the Cavs!

We would like to thank the Hawks for participating in the playoffs. Please pick up your parting gifts as you leave the arena: The Cavs are serious! The Cavs are undefeated in the playoffs so far. They are disposing of the undermanned competition by an average of nearly 20 points a game. This team for the first time in franchise history looks like it has no intention of taking a game off let alone allowing a team to beat it in Cleveland.

The team seems to be totally focused on winning and that focus is provided by Lebron James. He has the will to win regardless of the situation and has willed the team to comebacks against some of the best teams in the league during the regular season. Now, he and his mates are making playoff teams look like the Washington Generals against the Globetrotters.

Don’t expect them to get pressed by any team until the finals.

Boston is struggling with the Magic: This version of the Celtics is a shadow of the team that won the championship last year. They are hurt and seem to be using that as an excuse to explain losses to an inferior Magic team. The Celts were lucky to win Game 4 and that luck will not continue. The Magic will win the series as soon as they begin to remember to get the ball to their superstar Dwight Howard in the last few minutes of a game. Magic win in 7 games.

The Lakers seem to take games off: How else can you explain the Lakers losing to Houston in Game 4 even though the Rockets are missing their biggest piece? The Lakers looked like a team that expected the Rockets to give up after C Yao Ming went down with a foot injury in Game 3.

Kobe Bryant doesn’t seem to have the ability that Lebron does to keep the team focused. In addition, Andrew Bynum struggled while Yao was on the floor. Even in game 4, the shadow of Yao seemed to be effective against Bynum. Bynum recovered in game 5 and helped the Lakers take a 3-2 advantage in the series.

Now that Yao is out for the rest of the playoffs, the Lakers will win the series. Had he been healthy, the Lakers would have gone down in 6 games. However, the Lakers will have to get focused in a hurry if they are going to get to the finals. They are probably the deepest team in the league but they had better take Denver more seriously than they have Houston. The Nuggets will not be an easy out.

Owner Mark “the punk” Cuban is going to blow up the Mavs: Look for a lot of changes in Dallas after the season. They are not competitive now and need to upgrade their team overall. The bench has been particularly unproductive in the playoffs this season except for Jason Terry. The trade for Jason Kidd was like throwing a piece of spaghetti against a wall to see if it’s done. It has not worked out like the Mavs thought.

It looks like Erick Dampier got old all of a sudden. The Mavs have tried to shake up the starting lineup without much success. Look for a lot of changes in Mav Land. Unfortunately, the exit of Cuban will not be among them.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA Playoffs,NBA,Cavilers,Celtics,Lakers,Nuggets,Magic,Cuban,Maverics,Rockets,Yao Ming,Lebron James,Kobe Bryant,Bynum,Kidd,Howard,Terry

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