The (True) Story of How I Won the 1997 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Rocco Tenaglia, contributor

In 1997 I had the misfortune of taking part in the abysmal 1997 NBA slam dunk contest. It was Darvin Ham, Mike Finley, Chris Carr, Ray Allen, Bob Sura, Kobe Bryant, and myself. Those other jokers didn’t even stand a chance.

I remember the day vividly. I had forgotten my Jordans in the car, so I had to borrow Rod Strickland’s busted-ass Air Flights (do not google these shoes; they are the vilest Nikes ever made). On top of that, I just snagged the first shirt off the top of the laundry basket, thinking it was my jersey, but it was a 2XL airbrushed Tasmanian Devil T-shirt from King’s Island. Look, I’m not making excuses, I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, we came out of the tunnel and the first thing I noticed was that one of the judges was some broad named Lisa, the first ever broad judge, so I already knew this wasn’t my kind of dunk party. Still, I got over it. What I couldn’t get over, however, was the constant onslaught of hip hop instrumentals from N64 sports game starting menus and the Run Lola Run soundtrack that kept playing over the loudspeaker. I had to whip out the Walkman and block that noise out to get in the zone.

So Carr goes first. Trash. Next.

Someone else goes second and gets booed out of the building. Probably cries in the bathroom, but I wasn’t watching, I was swapping out my Westside Connection tape for my Ice Cube solo tape.

Ray Allen goes and embarrasses himself. It was pretty funny.

Kobe goes. I turn to the guy next to me and bet him 40 grand this kid doesn’t last 2 years in the NBA with his purple shoe-wearin’ ass.

Bob Sura goes and chokes in front of his home crowd.

Mike went and did a windmill. Real original. Spoiler alert, he lost.

I go last. Here’s what I hit ‘em with, in order: really cool dunk, really cool dunk, extremely cool dunk. That’s right, baby, a perfect 50.

Well, long story short, the judges decide to DQ me, on the count of me being 5 years old. The Kobe kid wins and goes on to be accused of sexual assault.

The end.

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