Dominique: I beat MJ in the '88 dunk contest

Dominique: I beat MJ in the '88 dunk contest
January 22, 2014, 5:15 pm
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Mark Strotman

Was one of the most famous dunk contests in NBA history won by the wrong player? According to Dominique Wilkins, yes.

The Atlanta Hawks' Hall-of-Famer spoke with Grantland's Bill Simmons on a number of topics, including that 1988 dunk contest, held in Chicago, in which Jordan beat Wilkins.

Jordan's dunks undoubtedly were impressive -- his dunk from the free throw line inspired the logo for Jordan brand -- but the general consensus outside of Chicago was that Wilkins was every bit as good. But on Jordan's final dunk, he needed a 48 to tie and a 49 to win, and the judges awarded him a perfect 50 for the free-throw line dunk.

[MORE: Under Thibodeau, Bulls continue to grind out wins]

Wilkins says the competition doesn't bother him, considering he and Jordan are both friends -- Jordan allegedly told Wilkins that Wilkins deserved to win the contest -- and that they did it for the fans during All-Star Weekend, rather than it being about two of the highest flyers in the game.

"To be honest with you, at the time it happened a lot of people know who won," Wilkins told Simmons. "But we didn't do it for us; we did it for the fans. It wasn't about us, but Michael and I are very good friends. We have a lot of respect for one another and he said, 'Hey, you probably won. You know it, I know it, but hey, you're in Chicago. What can I tell you?'

"It could have went either way. Michael Jordan is a freakish dunker, but we both were. Again, our competition against one another, it was just unmatched. We enjoyed competing."

Wilkins also said it's disappointing to see bigger-named players not participating in All-Star Weekend. The dunk contest, once competed in by the best dunkers (and players) in the game, now has younger, more athletic players competing. That's a problem for Wilkins, who said the entire weekend is for the fans, meaning the best players should participate.

"Yes it was. It's not about the individual. It's about just giving the fans something for All-Star Weekend. The dunk contest was the signature event at All-Star Weekend, everybody came to see the dunk contest. And now you don't have any names in it, so it's hard to come out and support it. You'd like to see some of the main guys in it."

You can watch highlights from the dunk contest below and decide for yourself who deserved to win: