With the exception of Bradley Beal, who will be participating in the Rising Stars Challenge, the Wizards will have no participation in this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend. I suppose you can’t expect much else from a team that is bad and lacking recognizable names.
The first All-Star Weekend I remember was from 1990. Miami was the host city, and the game featured a host of star headliners from the East (Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley) and the West (Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler).
My sister and I recorded the three-point shootout and dunk contest on VHS, dubbing over a few Simpsons episodes and Jukebox Network music videos. As a team, the Heat was in its infant stage, having just become a franchise in 1988. Their three-point contest participant was John Sundvold, who faced a formidable line-up including players such as Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, and Mark Price. While cheered boisterously by his home crowd, Sundvold would fail to make the final round, as he was edged out in the semifinals. But at least he looked cool in defeat. The music of choice for the competition was the Miami Vice theme song and the Heat’s warm-up suits back then looked like Cobra Kai uniforms.
Craig Hodges would end up taking the title. He trumped Reggie Miller by a score of 19-18 in the final round. Craig should have advised his teammate, Michael Jordan, to stay away. Jordan tallied only 5 points total – the lowest of all participants – and did not make it out of the first round.
The dunk contest featured a hodgepodge of players ranging from the favorites (Dominique Wilkins and Shawn Kemp) to the underdogs (Rex Chapman and Kenny Walker). Rex, the former Bullet, donning a haircut most notable in the trenches of Xenia, OH, pulled off a nifty behind the back, reverse alley-oop dunk. Despite his textbook, arms raised follow-through, Chapman’s dunk would only draw a lukewarm reception from the crowd and judges.
The contest final featured the undersized unlikely hero, Kenny Smith, squaring off against the favorite, Dominique Wilkins. Although Smith would dazzle the crowd with an impressive array of dunks spanning, ‘Nique’s bow-legged flair would prove to be too much, as he’d take the crown by capping off the competition with a thunderous windmill.
Some additional highlights:
Billy Thompson, the other Heat player participating in the all-star weekend, went old school and dunked two balls. The problem, though, is that he flubbed the first attempt, so the end result lost some of its luster.
Shawn Kemp had some difficulties with his first dunk, too, including a fall after the first miss. When he hit the floor, he casually pushed himself back a couple feet, all in one motion. If I were a judge, I’d have given Kemp points for mitigating embarrassment.
Kenny “Sky” Walker from the Knicks brought lots of power, but little creativity. He also may have been weighed down by the enormous knee brace he was wearing. That thing could have fused bones together overnight.
Kenny Smith’s ball bounce under the legs, catch off the backboard dunk is still one of my favorites in dunk contest history. It had lots of ingenuity back then.
Watching teammates cheer on the dunkers, you get a real taste of how bad 90s fashion was. Magic Johnson’s shirt looked like a bar of soap, Isiah Thomas proudly wore a boxy Milli Vanilli suit, and Patrick Ewing’s glasses looked like the standard pair that came free with the eye exam.
Here's video of the entire dunk contest from that year. Enjoy!