Who Got More Robbed? Nique in ‘88 or Gordon in ‘16

It’s the week leading up to NBA All-Star Weekend so Hi-Top HQ is digging in deep to uncover some serious All-Star Truths.

First up – Dunk Contest Robbery

1988 Michael Jordan v Dominique Wilkins

2016 Zack Levine v Aaron Gordon

This is not a comparison of the 1988 contest and the 2016 contest. There’s no doubt dunking has evolved by leaps and bounds in the last 30 years and the addition of props and teammates makes comparing contests virtually impossible. This is strictly a dissection of which second place finisher (Nique in 88, Gordon in 16) was more deserving of a victory.


Dominique Wilkins was facing an up hill battle right from Jump Street. All-Star Weekend was being held in Chicago. Michael Jordan Mania was reaching a fevered pitch all across America. Jordan ended the season as league MVP and Defensive POY. It was Jordan’s moment. Short of MJ missing every dunk it’s hard to see him not walking away with the trophy that night.

But did he deserve to win?

Jordan had both the best dunk of the night (Kiss The Rim Dunk) and the most memorable and iconic dunk when he went from the free throw line in the final round but people forget the free throw line was actual a repeat dunk. Jordan had executed the exact same dunk early in the contest. Doing the same dunk twice is a giant no-no. Shouldn’t even be allowed but if it is it should be an automatic point deduction right off the bat. Wilkins was judged extra harshly in the finals, a Two-Handed Windmill is TOUGH.


The 2016 contest was thisclose. Both dudes pulled off some absolutely mind exploding slams. Like 88 it was a battle of contrasting styles – the power of Gordon v the style of Levine. It could easily be argued that Gordon had not the #1 dunk of the night but both the #1 and the #2 dunks of the night. They just happened to be his first two dunks. Levine on the other hand slowly built up to a crescendo culminating with his through the legs from the free throw line jam. Gordon’s final two dunks were pretty great but they paled badly in comparison to his first two. Switch the order of Gordon’s dunks and he wins no question. But that has to be part of your strategy. It’s a risk to save dunks but when you have that many good ones save the absolute best for last.

So who got robbed more?

Looking strictly at the contests as they played out, Nique should have won in 1988. Jordan wins if he does a great NEW dunk but doubling up on a previous dunk should have cost him points in addition to the fact that Nique’s 45 was unfairly harsh.

Retro Active Winner – Dominique Wilkins Slam Dunk Champion 1988


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