Dominique Wilkins on Jordan, dunk, LeBron
February, 15, 2013
By Lynn Hoppes | ESPN.com
Juan Ocampo/NBAE/Getty ImagesMichael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins had quite the slam dunk contest rivalry years ago.Easily one of the best dunkers in NBA history, Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins said he wishes Miami Heat forward LeBron James would participate in this weekend's slam dunk contest in Houston.
"Everybody wants to see him and a few of the best high fliers in the NBA these days. Blake Griffin. Kevin Durant. And a few others," said Wilkins, who won two dunk titles (1985, 1990). "Can you imagine that? You couldn't even buy a ticket to that show."
Playbook had a few minutes to talk with Wilkins about the slam dunk contest, Michael Jordan's 50th birthday and the debate of LeBron versus Jordan.
With you in Houston for NBA All-Star Weekend, do you wish you were still playing?
"I used to. Don't get me wrong. I'm still a fan of the game. But reality sets in. You start shooting around, and your body will let you know it's time for you to retire."
There are six NBA players in the slam dunk contest but none of the big names. Why do you think they skip this event?
"It's hard to say. I know the guys have a lot of responsibilities for the All-Star Weekend, but at the same time, it doesn't take a lot of effort to get involved in the contest. For me, it's about giving back to the fans."
This weekend is Jordan's 50th birthday. You recently turned 53. Both of you guys have transcended your era. What does that feel like?
"We set the mark early on by playing at a high level. We loved competition. It was passed on to us. Larry Bird. Dr. J. Magic Johnson. It set the tone for the rest of us. It was a great time to be part of basketball."
So LeBron versus Jordan. How would it go?
"I hate comparisons. That's because you never really know. But look at what Jordan did. You can't compare it. He's the greatest 2-guard to play the game. No question about that. What he did will never be duplicated. How many guys can win three titles and go play another sport and come back and win three more? You'll never see that again."
So how will the slam dunk contest go Saturday?
"I think you'll see some surprises. People will be trying to make a name for themselves. I think guys these days need to be more strategic. For me, there wasn't a lot of planning. I just thought about it when I entered [the arena]. For me, dunking was easy."