Dunking Diaries

Bucks recollect first slams

Anyone who believes that a basketball player never forgets his first dunk might be surprised to hear stories to the contrary.

A few such tales emerged during a recent "slam session" with members of the Milwaukee Bucks. Here are some of their recollections:

Larry Sanders

"My first dunk experience was when I got dunked on. I got set up. I tried to block a guy's shot. I was 15, I was tall and I was new to the park. It was an after-school YMCA program. I didn't know anyone. There was a guy named Mario that I was playing against. Somebody said, ‘Try to block his shot.' So they set me up and he ran up and dunked on me. He was probably the most athletic guy around at the time. I didn't know. He ended up becoming one of my best friends. We used to hang out and stay at each others' houses. It was funny how we first met. That was before I could dunk. I was about 6-4 at the time.

"I remember my first dunk. It came in a gym. I was 16 and about 6-6. A guy was trying to teach me, telling me to just go up like I was going in to lay it up, then just try throwing it in the basket. I couldn't get my footwork and coordination right. But I finally got it after trying all night, and I dunked it.

 "Once I got the coordination right, it became easy. Before that, it seemed impossible. I could get up there. Once my limbs started working together well, it came easily for me.

 "My first game dunk happened during my junior year in high school. I had a teammate named Clarence and we had a bet on who would get the first dunk of the season when we were sophomores. He got the first and only one.

John Henson

"My first dunk came when I was in middle school. There was a fire drill, and everyone had to go to the gym. We were kind of playing around, trying to dunk before we had to go back to class. I was in my jeans, but I went up and dunked. It might have been because all the girls were watching. That was my first one. We were all trying, but I did it. I was kind of taken aback. I was about 6-2 or 6-3.

 "I'm not real sure about my first game dunk. The first time I can remember dunking in a game was probably in my sophomore year. I had a tip dunk. I was watching it over and over. It wasn't anything spectacular, but I thought it was so cool, so I kept watching it. It was cool, man."

Nate Wolters

"I haven't dunked very often. The first time I dunked in a game was when I was a junior in high school. It was cool to do it in a game. It was just a breakaway and a normal, two-handed dunk. That's about all I can do.

"We didn't have too many guys who can dunk at my high school, so people were excited. The crowd liked it, especially the student section. They don't see dunks very often, so when they do, they get pretty excited.

"My family knew I could dunk, so they didn't say much. I kind of dunked the same way every time, so there wasn't really much to talk about.

"I don't even remember the first time I dunked before that."

Miroslav Raduljica

"It was in 2002. I think I was warming up for a game. It was just a simple dunk. Just my teammates were there. They were pretty excited. I wasn't the first one from our generation to dunk, but I was one of the first because of my height, so it was exciting for them and for me. I was about two meters – maybe 6-4 of 6-5. It's a memorable moment for every basketball player. That's how I remember the exact year. That tells a lot about it being a pretty special moment for me.

 "I guess my first game dunk was the same year. All I remember is the first time I did it, it seemed pretty easy because I had done it in practice.

"My older brother is 5 years older than me, so he dunked before me. Now, he can't dunk anymore. He doesn't play basketball anymore."

 Khris Middleton

"I think I was in ninth grade when I snuck one in. I tried to do it again and failed over and over again. I did have a couple of witnesses. I didn't get another one for about three or four months. It was a running dunk.

"My first game dunk was during that season, about midway through. I got a steal, had a fast break all by myself and just dunked. It was a great feeling to get my first dunk in a game. I was probably 6-4 or 6-5."

Ersan Ilyasova

"My first dunk was before high school. I was probably 12. I actually broke the rim. It was one of those where they had no support on the back of the rim. I was so excited. I pulled down on the rim and it broke off. A lot of the baskets at our school were older.

"I was shocked. The first thing I thought was, ‘Will I have to pay for it?' I wondered what was going to happen when the people at the school found out I broke it. Our coach came and said, ‘Who did it?' I told him I had dunked and he said, ‘Really? Do it again.' I couldn't do it. I'll always remember that. There were some of my school friends there to see it. We had gone to the gym between classes and were shooting around. I didn't even have sneakers on; I was wearing dress shoes. So I was kind of surprised, but I got up high enough and dunked it.

"It was so spontaneous. My friends were telling me, ‘You should have seen your face.' The backboard was wooden, so there was no shattered glass."

 "I don't really remember my first game dunk. I just remember trying not to hang on the rim after what happened that first time. After a while, as I got taller and could jump higher, I dunked a few times and it just became kind of natural. "

Brandon Knight

"My first one out of a game was at a place called Coral Springs Gymnasium. We used to go there and just play all day. I remember we had gotten done playing. I was in seventh grade, a young guy with a lot of energy who was trying to dunk all the time. I just ended up getting a clean one. I had rattled some in before, but I finally got a clean one. I tried to do it again, but I couldn't. I just had one good jump.

 "My first game dunk was in my eighth grade year on varsity. I got the ball at half-court, got my feet right and had a nice cut toward the basket. I jumped off two feet and dunked it. My teammates were surprised, because it was the first time they'd seen an eighth-grader dunk.

 "There's a guy I still see back home who'll say, ‘I remember your first dunk. It was against me.' That's always fun to remember those times. I was probably 6 feet or 6-1."

Zaza Pachulia

"I don't remember. For me, two points is two points. I don't really remember dunks. I just lay it in. For me, fundamentals were more important than dunking. That's probably because of my coach. He was my first coach and that's how he looked at the game for everybody. We wanted us to dribble the right way, pass the right way and shoot the right way. All of the fundamentals were huge for me."

"It's not like I'm against the dunk. I just don't remember."

Ekpe Udoh

"I'm not sure, to be honest. I was tall. I was probably about 6-4 when I dunked for the first time...maybe during my eighth-grade summer. We were just horsing around. Guys were throwing it up and I was trying to get as high as I could. I tried it a lot. When I finally got it, I was like, ‘It's about time.' Then I tried doing it all the time. Some of my friends were around.

"I don't remember my first game dunk, though."

A review of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

The Milwaukee Bucks have never had an NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner.

Desmond Mason, who played for the Bucks from 2003-05 and in 2007-08, won the competition in 2001, but he was a member of the Seattle Super Sonics at the time.

Here are the year-by-year NBA Slam Dunk Contest winners:

2014: John Wall, Washington Wizards

2013: Terrance Ross, Toronto Raptors

2012: Jeremy Evans, Utah Jazz

2011: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

2010: Nate Robinson, New York Knicks

2009: Nate Robinson, New York Knicks

2008: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

2007: Gerald Green, Boston Celtics

2006: Nate Robinson, New York Knicks

2005: Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks

2004: Fred Jones, Indiana Pacers

2003: Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors

2002: Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors

2001: Desmond Mason, Seattle Super Sonics

2000: Vince Carter, Toronto Raptors

1999: Lockout; Shortened Season; No All-Star Weekend

1998: No Slam Dunk Contest

1997: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

1996: Brent Barry, Los Angeles Clippers

1995: Harold Miner, Miami Heat

1994: Isaiah Rider, Minnesota Timberwolves

1993: Harold Miner, Miami Heat

1992: Cedric Ceballos, Phoenix Suns

1991: Dee Brown, Boston Celtics

1990: Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks

1989: Kenny Walker, New York Knicks

1988: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls

1987: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls

1986: Spud Webb, Atlanta Hawks

1985: Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks

1984: Larry Nance, Phoenix Suns

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