At its apex, the NBA dunk contest is the league’s finest display of individual flexing, with players showing off their creativity and imagination by coming up with the coolest ways of stuffing a basketball into a basket. But there are plenty of times when the dunk contest becomes a Sisyphean exercise, with players going through the motions to collect a perfunctory paycheck and pal around with their similarly bored peers. Other times, a performance becomes a hoax meant to take advantage of the part in every basketball fan that wants to believe the freshest things can happen in the dunk contest. Those dunkers will get no quarter from us, and we’ve collected 10 of the worst dunks in NBA history to remind offenders that their sub-par efforts are always being judged. By Jeremy Gordon
Why It Sucked: Forget the novelty of someone pretending to slam without sight: Cedric Ceballos knows that blindfold was see-through. Even if he never admits it, he’ll still be held accountable before the eyes of God.
Why It Sucked: Dumas was one of many in a long line of players to finish the dunk contest having whiffed on everything, earning the ridicule of a very ridiculous-looking Shaq. He was out of the league a few years later, as though general managers realized that a player who couldn’t score on an unprotected rim probably wouldn’t be much good in a real game.
Why It Sucked: Fatigue is fatigue, but it’s hard to imagine any highly fit NBA player would be so exhausted from a few dunk attempts that he would conclude his contest by laying it in. With teammates like these, it’s no wonder Shaquille O’Neal wanted to leave Orlando so quickly.
Why It Sucked: Please, dunkers: Come up with backup routines so you know what to do when the plan goes to pieces. You get credit on the SATs just for signing your name, which is why Larry Hughes finished with points on the board and not something more appropriate, like a scarlet letter affixed to his forehead as proof to the world he was too crappy for words.
Why It Sucked: Poor Chris "Birdman" Andersen went to the trouble of walking all the way to halfcourt like he was prepared to do something more than play the world's worst game of alley oop with himself. He kept lobbing and lobbing and lobbing with nothing more to show for it than a handful of half-assed leap, reaching the rare achievement of providing a Birdman performance more ridiculous than the way Birdman actually looks.
Why It Sucked: The mechanics of Nate Robinson's final round tiebreaker dunk would be offensive on their own — he missed multiple times, only to finish with some herky-jerky monstrosity meant to impress you because he’s barely taller than Elijah Wood. But Robinson was actually awarded the trophy because of that dunk, punishing spontaneity with the basketball equivalent of watching someone struggle their way out of a sleeping bag for 25 minutes before finally breaking free.
Why It Sucked: This wasn’t even a dunk! He whipped the ball into the basket, and you shouldn’t be rewarded for that in a dunk contest. Also, it doesn’t get more corny than calling yourself Superman and waddling out on the court with a shield and cape and the world’s goofiest grin like you’ve actually accomplished something clever.
Why It Sucked: The point of the dunk contest is to have some fun, yes. Instead, Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace looked like he was waiting for someone to tell him that the practice round was over and the real thing was ready to begin. Then again, what else was the league expecting by allowing a Bobcat into All-Star weekend?
Why It Sucked: The setup of Blake Griffin dunking while leaping over the Kia car he's paid to promote was incredibly contrived, previewing the future’s potential as a place where so many different types of brands can unite to provide their audience with the right kind of content. Namely, something that dances around the truth that those cars are uglier than garbage.
Why It Sucked: For whatever reason, the league decided to ignore tradition by changing the dunk contest’s format into an unrecognizable mess. Gone were the individual scores and the every-dunker-for-himself ethos ensuring the competitive purity, instead replaced with a nondescript East/West team competition and anticlimactic judging method. Basketball Twitter cried foul and declared the first dunk contest of commissioner Adam Silver’s reign a dubious one.