clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

YouTube Gold: The First Dunk Contest

Get ready for a completely different understanding of what the dunk was.

2018 McDonald’s All American Game - Jam Fest
This kind of dunk by Zion Williamson was not even conceived of in 1976
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Dunk contests have become common place and almost boring.

That despite the stunning dunks some guys can pull off, not to mention the periodic props like chairs or teammates or once, we think, a car.

The roots of the dunk contest were much humbler and started at halftime of the final ABA All-star game.

A lot of this is just ridiculous by today’s standards. George Gervin was a great offensive force and a highly creative shooter, but a dunker? Not even.

And Artis Gilmore, who was 7-2 and still young, basically just did a standing dunk. He’d be booed out of the arena today.

Still, you can see the roots of the idea taking hold. Former NC State great David Thompson pulled off what may have been the first 360 dunk in public (or at least on television).

Julius Erving was having none of it and pulled off a legendary foul-line dunk to put the contest out of reach for Thompson.

A lot of this is seriously lame by today’s standards, but watching Erving take off for that dunk is still pretty impressive.