warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Top 5 Highlights From the 2011 NBA Dunk Contest

Patrick Crawley |
February 20, 2011 | 3:54 a.m. PST

Senior Sports Editor

The Dunk Contest is back! And the revolution will be...sponsored by Kia. (Now that's corporate.)

A year after arguably the most mundane, lackluster competition in Dunk Contest history (thanks for nothing, Shannon Brown), Blake Griffin, JaVale McGee, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka brought the heat. They dunked with innovation and passion, two things that were severely lacking last year.

Blake took home the award for Dunk Contest champion, but did he have the best dunk of the night?

Find out below.

Second runner-up: Serge Ibaka dunking from the free throw line

I value creativity and innovation when it comes to the Dunk Contest. If you're repeating a dunk that your forefathers created, you better add a twist or a challenge or something that makes it better. Ibaka didn't do that. So, yeah, taking off from the free throw line and throwing it down was cool. But it wasn't cool enough to crack the Top 5.

First runner-up: Blake Griffin dunking over a Kia Optima

Okay. I get it. This was the dunk that supposedly "won" the contest for Blake. It was cool. It had never been seen before. It involved more props than the Broadway version of Superman. But it was also a fairly mediocre display of Blake's skills.

First of all, he only jumped over the hood of the car. Whoop-di-frickin'-do. We've seen the guy jump over Timofey Mozgov before. And Mozgov is 7-foot-1. The hood of an economy-class sedan is supposed to be impressive? Please.

Second of all, I felt dirty after this dunk. The commercialism. The production. It all seemed slimy. Like maybe this whole contest is going to devolve into a war of the sponsors, where Sprite and Taco Bell and Ford vie to be the best at incorporating their product into a player's routine. How lame would that be? 

Third, I don't know. I just didn't like it that much. It didn't seem nearly as impressive as some of the other feats of athleticism we saw. Other than the choir and the production, there wasn't a "wow" factor to it.

Let's move on to dunks that were better.

5. Blake Griffin - Elbow deep

Clearly it was a great competition if this dunk finished fifth. Blake took Vince Carter's elbow-in-the-rim dunk from 2000 and jacked it up on steroids.

Not only did he get half his arm through the rim, he grabbed on and hung there for a good 3-4 seconds, just to show he could.

It was an amazing -- and, judging by the bruises on his arm afterward, slightly stupid -- effort. Vinsanity should be proud.

4. JaVale McGee - Cradled reverse baseline

McGee made this dunk look easy, which is probably why you shrugged just now watching it.

Do me a favor, though. Go to the YMCA tomorrow (or a park or your driveway, wherever the nearest hoop is) and give it a try. Okay, scratch that. You're like me. You can't dunk. Have your favorite NBA superstar give it a try. LeBron, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade. Whoever. I guarantee you they won't be able to pull it off.

McGee is a dunking savant. A one-of-a-kind. He makes the cradle look easy. Damn is he good.

3. DeMar DeRozan - The "Showstopper"

This one brought the house down, and rightfully so.

Not only was this the most graceful dunk of the night, DeRozan nailed it on the first try -- a rarity unfortunately.

Any dunk that can put a look like that on Kenny Smith's face is worth the price of admission.

DeRozan certainly didn't leave the hometown crowd disappointed.

2. Blake Griffin - Hesitation, behind-the-head 360

Maybe it was the hype (courtesy of "coach" Kenny Smith). Maybe it was the whoosh of the crowd's breath being taken away as he completed the dunk. Or maybe it was the looming element of danger -- the sense that at any moment Blake would careen into the backboard or crash heavily to the floor, unable to complete the nearly impossible task he was so recklessly undertaking.

Whatever it was, this dunk worked for me.

It was powerful and poetic and breathtaking. I couldn't stop jumping up and down on the couch, even after multiple replays revealed it to be less impressive than I originally thought.

This was my second favorite dunk of the night.

You can't tell me nothing.

1. JaVale McGee - Two balls, two baskets

This was the best dunk of the competition in my opinion. Like Reggie Miller said, it's something nobody else in the NBA could duplicate. I typically disagree (vehemently) with Reggie. But in this case, he's right. McGee pulled this off and nobody else could have.

Creativity? Check. Innovation? Check. Difficulty to replicate? Off the charts.

JaVale, you may not be going back to D.C. with the dunk championship, but you did leave us with an iconic dunk that future dunks will forever be measured by.

Hat tip to you, sir. 

Hat tip also to the Buha Chronicles for compiling the videos you see above. You made this list 10 times easier. 


To reach Patrick Crawley, click here. Follow him on Twitter @BasketballFiend.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.