Dominique Wilkins Rumors
While such a reality is laughable now, five All-Stars took part in the dunk festivities in 1985: Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Clyde Drexler and Larry Nance. Another All-Star was a scratch due to injury: Charles Barkley. (His replacement was a little-known player named Terence Stansbury, who delivered the memorable “Statue of Liberty” 360-degree dunk.) The 1985 NBA Slam Dunk Contest has gone down in history as arguably the best ever, as Wilkins outlasted a sweatsuit-wearing Jordan for the dunk crown in Indianapolis. “We wanted to know who the best was,” Wilkins told The Undefeated. “It was as simple as that. And we wanted to do it for the fans. That was the biggest thing. That’s what everybody came to the All-Star Weekend to see. The dunk contest was a signature event.”
HOW WOULD YOU CHANGE THE DUNK CONTEST? Vince Carter: I would do it like the old days, like you would do in streetball. Next man up, then once you go, it’s next, next, next, next. To me, the gimmicky thing is kind of overrated. Show them what you’re ‘cooking’ with. Don’t put the onus on a guy to have to use a prop or a teammate. Just go out there and throw the ball out there. It’s your turn. And let that be that. And that’s kind of how it originated. That’s kind of how it organically happens on the streetball or basketball court. Dominique Wilkins: I don’t know what you can do because the best athletes don’t want to get in it. That’s one thing you can’t change. As for the format, I like the old-school format. You go out there and get you a ball and let your imagination do its thing. Keep it simple.
WHY AREN’T THE ELITE PLAYERS COMPETING? Dominique Wilkins: The big-time athletes won’t get in it. That is the first thing that comes to mind. But they got so many things going on besides that. … Everybody’s scared to fail. Vince Carter: I don’t think there’s a remedy. It’s just how they’re feeling. I can’t answer that question. I just don’t know. That was just something I looked forward to. But in my mind, I didn’t know I would become a star player that night. Prior to it, I wasn’t a star player. I was [a high] pick. But after that night, my life changed. I also was in the All-Star Game, so it kind of goes both ways. [The dunk contest] was something I wanted to do. … One time was enough for me. I didn’t want to be labeled as the dunk contest guy.
On May 19, 2018, Cousins posted a picture to Twitter and Instagram that showed Wilkins moments after he ruptured his Achilles. It gave Cousins hope and he praised the legend’s comeback. Shortly after, the two NBA stars connected. “I reached out to him,” Wilkins told HoopsHype. “I told him, ‘Don’t listen to all of the critics. Nobody knows your heart the way that you do. Use that to your advantage. Don’t let all of the critics dictate who you are.’”
Some fans questioned why Wilkins has been willing to help a rival player, considering he is Atlanta’s Vice President of Basketball and Cousins obviously plays for the Warriors. However, for Wilkins, this is much bigger than competing with Golden State. “People look at it and ask why I’m lighting a fire in a guy who isn’t on my team, but, to me, that doesn’t matter,” Wilkins explained. “It’s not about that! It’s about helping someone continue to fulfill their dreams. That’s what was the most important thing to me because, look, I’ve been through it! I’ve been through this. I know what he’s dealing with.”