As "Superman" prepares to don his cape on basketball's biggest dunking stage for the first time in 11 years, here are Howard's five best efforts from his three previous appearances in the dunk contest.
Dwight Howard has turned back the clock with the Los Angeles Lakers this season. Signed to a non-guaranteed contract in August, the former perennial MVP candidate turned NBA vagabond has become indispensable in his team’s quest for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Howard, understandably, isn’t quite the high-flying freak of nature he was while soaring to stardom at the top of the decade with the Orlando Magic. No matter.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the 34-year-old will nevertheless participate in the Dunk Contest for All-Star Weekend in Chicago.
As “Superman” prepares to don his cape on basketball’s biggest dunking stage for the first time in 11 years, here are Howard’s five best efforts from his three previous appearances in the dunk contest.
Howard’s inaugural dunk-contest offering failed to exploit the potential advantages of his status as the tallest ever competitor in the field. But as far as traditional windmills go, it doesn’t get much better than Howard’s effort from 2007 – in terms of distance, height, power, and circumference.
Howard tipped off his iconic performance in the 2008 dunk-off with a slam that perfectly blended his rare length and aerial grace. The same dunk has been completed multiple times since but never with the effortless artistry of Howard when he first debuted it. He gets bonus points for finishing with his left hand, too.
Almost no one watching – from the comforts of home or Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Center – could immediately comprehend what Howard did with his second dunk in 2007.
While corralling a towering lob from Magic teammate Jameer Nelson with his right hand and finishing with authority, Howard simultaneously slapped a sticker high up the backboard with his left. Did he actually reach 12-and-a-half feet like the accompanying flier indicated? Maybe not, but it doesn’t really matter.
The sticker dunk is one of the most underrated in the history of All-Star weekend.
The most iconic image from over 40 years of dunk contests is of Michael Jordan leaping from the free throw line in 1988. The Chicago Bulls legend has the ball cocked back and his legs angled toward parallel to the floor, ostensibly suspended in midair en route to finishing a slam that began 15 feet away from the basket.
The second-most memorable dunk contest photo? Howard, donning a Superman cape, jumping from just inside the free throw line off two feet, with his head at rim level like he was dropped from the ceiling.
The Superman dunk is hardly Howard’s most innovative. But to a generation of NBA fans, the dunk contest was re-born when he put on the cape and made flying seem possible.
Howard’s dunk contest exploits will always be most remembered for soaring like Superman. His annual David-Goliath battles with Nate Robinson were beloved by younger fans, and event aficionados will never forget how he broke the laws of size and vertical explosiveness by putting a sticker at the top of the backboard and dunking on a 12-foot rim.
Howard’s best dunk, though? The never-before-contemplated, let alone seen, double-tap slam he pulled out for his first turn of the final round in 2008. Epic.