Dominique Wilkins will be one of the judges for the 2017 Verizon Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star weekend’s Saturday night, and there are few more qualified to be in that position. Wilkins battled Michael Jordan to the finish in the event in 1988, and it remains one of the most epic dunk contests ever, almost 30 years later.
Wilkins sat down for a one-on-one interview with FOX Sports in New Orleans courtesy of his partnership with Verizon, which will allow fans to use the new Verizon Unlimited Data Plan to stream the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest in HD right from their phone or tablet.
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FOX Sports: All right, so you’re judging the dunk contest this year. What are you looking for out of these guys?
Dominique Wilkins: “What I’m looking for this year out of the Dunk Contest is creativity. Power. Finesse. I think how creative these guys can be is going to determine who’s going to be the final two to go head up. So I’m looking forward to that.
“Actually, I’m looking forward to DeAndre Jordan. It’s not often I’d say I’m looking forward to watching a big man, but he is an incredible athlete. I mean, he can get off the floor. I’m looking to see what type of creativity he brings.”
FS: I feel like big guys have a disadvantage in the dunk contest, because it just looks to easy for those guys. I mean Dwight Howard won obviously, but you had JaVale McGee in it one year and he did some crazy things and people just kind of didn’t care.
Wilkins: “I think DeAndre Jordan will be a little different, and typically for a lot of the big guys they’re so big that the dunks seem easy. But if he can be creative, he can really put himself in a position to be one of the final two guys.”
FS: What do you think about the recent trend, we got back to the athleticism last year, but what about the recent trend of using props, mascots, or guys dressing in costumes, all that stuff.
Wilkins: [Laughs] “Well the costume stuff — I wasn’t with all that. But if you’re using props you still have to have creativity and athleticism, because it’s all timing. But also, you’ve got to have some lift to create some of those dunks. Like look at the one Aaron Gordon did with the Magic mascot, catching the ball and going under his legs.”
FS: Obviously you were in the 1988 dunk contest, one of the most iconic of all time.
Wilkins: “The most.”
FS:The most! I’m with you.
Wilkins: “I appreciate that. [Laughs] Just thought I’d throw that out there.”
FS: What do you remember most about that night?
Wilkins: “It was hot. It was hot in that building. It was standing room only! It was standing room only. I knew it was going to be a show. I knew it was going to come down to me and Michael before the contest. It was just his weekend. It came down to being probably the most epic ever.”
FS: A lot of people think you should have won.
Wilkins: “Probably. [Laughs] You know, I hear that every day. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear about that dunk contest at least once. It’s amazing. You’re talking 25, 27 years later and we’re still talking about it. It was just a lot of fun for us.”