What is the NBA Slam Dunk Contest?

What is the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Since it was first held as its own special event in 1984, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest has been one of the most exciting events of NBA All-Star Weekend. Over almost four decades, many great professional basketball players have competed for the best dunker in the game. Read on to learn all about the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

  • Venue: Vivint Arena (changes yearly)
  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah (changes yearly)
  • First Held: 1984
  • Most Wins by Player: Nate Robinson (3 wins)
  • Most Wins by Team: New York Knicks (5 wins)


The origins of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest predate its association with the NBA by a year. The now-famous contest was first held by the American Basketball Association (ABA) as a halftime event for their 1976 ABA All-Star Game. The very first winner was small forward Julius Erving of the New York Nets. As a result of the ABA-NBA merger just months later, the Slam Dunk Contest was officially moved to the NBA and its own All-Star Game for the 1976-1977 season.

The NBA Slam Dunk Contest was reintroduced as its own annual free-standing event during All-Star Weekend in 1984. In the final round of the competition, the Phoenix Suns’ Larry Nance defeated the original Slam Dunk Contest winner, Julius Erving. In the almost four decades since, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest has been held during the NBA All-Star Weekend prior to the actual NBA All-Star Game itself.

Rules and Regulations

The NBA Slam Dunk Contest takes place over two rounds. Each player gets to attempt two dunks during the first round, with no more than two dunks permitted. A panel of five judges made up of former NBA players, scores both dunks based on style from 6 to 10. The two players with the highest total scores after the first round advance to the final round. The two finalists get to make two additional dunks in the final round, and they are again scored by the judges. The player with the higher score in the final round wins the Slam Dunk Contest.

2023 Slam Dunk Contest Players

Four NBA players are selected each year to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest. The NBA selects the most deserving players and chooses who to invite. The four contestants in the 2023 NBA Slam Dunk Contest are:

  • KJ Martin (Houston Rockets)
  • Mac McClung (G League - Delaware Blue Coats)
  • Trey Murphy III (New Orleans Pelicans)
  • Jericho Sims (New York Knicks)

*Shaedon Sharpe of the Portland Trail Blazers was initially scheduled to compete but dropped out to focus on his performance during the regular season.


What is the NBA Slam Dunk Contest?

The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is an annual exhibition event in which professional basketball players compete for the title of NBA’s best dunker. Every year, as part of the Saturday skills events on NBA All-Star weekend, the league chooses a few of its top dunkers (as well as eligible players from the G league) to compete in the contest.

Who has won the most NBA Slam Dunk Contests?

Nate Robinson has won the most NBA Slam Dunk Contests, having won three times. He first won the contest in 2006, defeating Andre Iguodala in the final round. He then won his second Slam Dunk Contest in 2009 and won a third and final time in 2010.

When does the NBA Slam Dunk Contest take place during All-Star Weekend?

The NBA Slam Dunk Contest takes place on Saturday night during All-Star Weekend. It is the third event of All-Star Saturday Night, which begins at 8 PM ET.