NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champions: Mac McClung joins the roster with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dr. J, more

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Mac McClung. Dominque Wilkins. Vincent Carter. Kobe Bryant. Michael Jordan. Throughout NBA history, these five names will be linked in a very specific way: all five, along with countless other players ranging from legends to journeymen, were NBA Slam Dunk Contest winners. And just about any All-Star Saturday Night fan would tell you that since the days when iconic Hall of Famers competed, the event has lost some of its luster.

Enter McClung. The G League player with a long history of viral dunks on the internet stole the show with one of the best contest dunk performances in recent history. Luminaries like Shaquille O’Neal and Magic Johnson are already saying that McClung saved the event and perhaps your example can help raise interest among high-level players.

Of course, other than McClung, we have no way of knowing who will compete in the coming years. What we do know is who McClung will join in the history books. Below are every slam dunk champion in event history, starting with Julius Erving in the ABA in 1976 through McClung in 2023.

You may notice some irregularities in this list. As the contest was initially an invention of the ABA, it was not adopted in its current format in the NBA until 1985. There was a brief two-year absence in the late 1990s, first in 1998 when the NBA attempted to replace it with the “WNBA -NBA 2Ball Competition” and again in 1999 when the lockout canceled All-Star Weekend completely.

The slam dunk contest has continued as scheduled ever since, although with its popularity waning in recent years, there was some fear that it could be in jeopardy if something didn’t change. Well, McClung might just be the change this event needed. It created genuine excitement around a competition that had become stale and will now easily be the most anticipated All-Star Weekend event next season. At that point, he will attempt to become the first repeat champion since Nate Robinson in 2009 and 2010. See you in Indianapolis.

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