Dominique’s Greatest Moments - 20

Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, as you may have heard. We here at Hawks.com cannot get enough of Nique, and are constantly scouring the internet for video of his days as the Human Highlight Film. On December 1st, the Hawks will be honoring Dominique as part of Hardwood Classic Nights, with the team wearing throwback uniforms representing the 1986 season.

To get ready for the festivities, Hawks.com is counting down the 21 greatest moments of Wilkins' career. Check back daily as we update the countdown every weekday leading up to the Dec. 1 match-up with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Feb. 19, 2005: Josh Smith wins the Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk Contest, wears Dominique Wilkins throwback jersey in tribute.

Though Dominique Wilkins was a tremendous all-around talent, his legendary dunking abilities were what put him on the map as a household name. Nique competed in five slam dunk contests, winning two of them and placing second twice.

A generation later, another Georgia talent announced his presence on the NBA landscape, as Josh Smith won the 2005 Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk Contest as an 19-year old rookie. With a jaw-dropping array of dunks, Smith brought magic back to a competition that had begun to rust with age.

One dunk in particular caught the public's eye, as Smith surprised all in attendance by donning a throwback Wilkins jersey and perfectly executed a rousing windmill dunk, reminiscent of the power and grace Wilkins exhibited so routinely during his playing career.

Smith would defeat Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire 100-87 in the finals to win the title, making the Hawks the only franchise in the NBA with three different Slam Dunk Contest winners.

Josh Smith
Hawks third-year veteran
"Growing up in Georgia, I always wanted to be like Dominique. I knew I had to do something great to win the contest, and I think that dunk definitely helped put me over the top.

Before the dunk contest we were trying to come up with what sort of dunks I was going to do, and the Hawks training staff actually helped me come up with the idea to wear Nique's jersey. The best part was, he had no idea I was going to do it, so I am glad I got to surprise him like that."

Sekou Smith
Hawks beat writer for AJC
"Normally, something like that would come off a bit cheesy. But it couldn't have been more appropriate. Josh Smith being Atlanta born and bred certainly added to the scene. And knowing that he had worked some with Dominique going into the contest also enhanced the entire situation.

But it's funny. After the contest Josh was escorted out of the locker room quickly by the folks at the NBA. That left Dominique to answer questions from the media throng assembled for the All-Star Weekend activities. He said all the right things and seemed truly honored that Josh would so something like that. And I know he had no idea it was coming, because he looked as surprised as anyone when Josh pulled his old jersey on and pulled off that dunk. It was a crazy moment for sure."
 


TNT's Cheryl Miller interviews Josh Smith and Dominique Wilkins during the 2005 All-Star Festivities