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On This Date in Sports February 6, 1988

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

NBA All-Star Weekend at Chicago Stadium, sees the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday Night take center stage, as Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks the 1985 Slum Dunk Champion takes on hometown hero Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls, who was looking to win a second straight. Needing a 48 to at least get a tie, Jordan performs the most iconic dunk of his career jumping from the foul line to score a perfect 50.

The Slam Dunk Contest was something first dreamed up in the final ABA All-Star Game in 1976, which was won by Julius Erving of the New York Nets. Nearly a decade later, the NBA decided to add some spice to All-Star weekend with the dunk contest first held in 1984 with Larry Nance of the Phoenix Suns winning in Denver. In 1985 in Indianapolis it was Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks taking the honors, while his teammate Spud Webb won a year later in 1986. In 1987 the contest was one by Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bull who took the dunk to a new art form.

With Jordan’s Bulls hosting the All-Star Game in 1988, it was clear he would get a benefit from some home cooking as he battled Dominique Wilkins in the final round. The two both started the showdown with a bang, nailing 50’s on their first dunk. Dominique Wilkins got a 50 on his second dunk as well, but Jordan only managed a 47 despite a solid cradle from the baseline. The score brought a chorus of boos from the partisan Chicago crowd. With boos raining down, Wilkins put in a powerful third effort, as the judges gave him a 45, causing many a raised eyebrow from those watching at home. Looking to recreate the dunk that Dr. J made in 1976, Michael Jordan ran down the length of the court and jumped from the foul line and appeared to float through the air before the final dunk, a perfect score of 50 to win the contest.

Earlier in the night, Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics continued to own the Three-Point shooting contest, winning for the third year in a row, the first three years the contest was held.  The Eastern Conference would beat the Western Conference 138-133, as Michael Jordan who scored a game-high 40 points was named the MVP.