Dunk or Not a Dunk?

There’s no denying that Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard put on quite a show last night in New Orleans, winning the 2008 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. His creativity and freakish leaping ability, especially for a 7-footer made it one of the best all around performances in the history of the competition.

I don’t question that he was the best dunker, but I’m not sure that one of his dunks was actually a dunk at all. It was creative. It was exciting to watch. But Howard’s “Superman” dunk, which came complete with cape and Superman t-shirt, was really more of a throw into the basket than a traditional dunk. His hand was several inches away from making contact with the rim.

Judge for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the hysterics of TNT’s Kenny Smith and Magic Johnson, but it looks to me like Howard took off from about one step too far. The resulting play was still incredible to watch, and unlike anything anyone had seen in the dunk contest before, but I still don’t think that makes it a dunk.

Yes, he was above the rim, and yes he threw the ball downward, but it wasn’t like he was throwing it straight down. He was throwing it forward too. My reaction? Great play. But not a dunk. Not really a shot either. I don’t even know what you’d call it. Never seen that done to a basketball before. Howard’s athleticism is amazing and his other dunks made him championship worthy.

Plus, he got ripped off last year for the sticker dunk, so maybe Howard deserved a pass.

I still think he should have had to re-try this one, though. I’m pretty sure he would’ve made it, but this is not an all-time best dunk because if you watch the slow-motion replay, it doesn’t look like a dunk.

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