Hawks.com Interview With Spud Webb

Hawks.com Interview With Spud Webb

by Micah Hart

20 years ago Spud Webb turned the basketball world on its ear, defeating teammate Dominique Wilkins to win the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest in Dallas. The 5-6 Webb defied the odds, throwing down a collection of impressive dunks on his way to the crown, an image most basketball fans from the 80's will never forget.

Now, two decades later, with another mighty-mite getting ready to challenge for the title (Nate Robinson of the Knicks), we caught up to Webb to discuss the anniversary of his famous victory, the state of the dunk contest, and the imprint he has left on the NBA.

Hawks.com: Can you believe it's been 20 years since you won the dunk contest?

1986: Spud Webb


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Spud Webb: Not at all, it's gone by so fast. People ask me that, but I guess when you have fun, the time goes by quickly.

Hawks.com: What was the experience like - do you still have very specific memories of it or is it a blur now?

SW: Not really. I don't really watch the dunk contest much, and at the time, all I really wanted to do was play basketball. It wasn't like winning the dunk contest was a huge goal of mine at the time. It just kind of happened. They came to me a week before the dunk contest, and (Hawks team president) Stan Kasten came to me and asked me if I wanted to be in it, and I was like, "Sure."

Hawks.com: A lot of people remember you for your victory in the contest more than for your tenure in the league (Webb played for 12 seasons in the NBA, including parts of seven seasons in Atlanta). Does that bother you?

SW: You know it used to, the first couple years after it happened, because that's all people knew me for. I was a basketball player, and that's what I wanted people to know me for. But now I appreciate it - there are only so many guys who can do what I did, so its nice to be recognized in the company of some of the other guys who won. But I never wanted to be known as just a guy who could dunk.

Hawks.com: It's an interesting contest this year, on the 20th anniversary of your win, with Nate Robinson entered as a contestant. What do you think of his chances?

SW: From what I hear, he is a good dunker. He has an assortment of dunks that, if he can pull them off, will give him a chance to win.

Hawks.com: Will you root for him?

SW:
Definitely. I actually asked (Knicks assistant coach) Herb Williams if I could meet him when they came to Dallas. He is enthused about being in the dunk contest, and I think he really wants to win. I want Josh Smith to do well too, but it's always nice to see someone like Nate do well because it brings a lot of excitement.

Hawks.com: And what do you think of Josh Smith's chances to repeat?

SW:
Oh he's the best dunker in the league (laughing). That's why Nate is going to have his work cut out for him. The thing about Josh is, he just makes his dunks look so easy, but most of what he does is really difficult to do. I think he is the frontrunner for sure.

Hawks.com: What is the overall key to winning?

SW: Well, I think of the dunk contest sort of like art. A dunker is like an artist - you have to picture what you are going to do in your mind, and then go out and execute it. It's like a gun fight. When you see a guy do a dunk, you want to go out and do something better. Unfortunately, they've changed the format around some, so it's not as much like that any more.

Hawks.com: It seems popular every year to talk about the state of the dunk contest - some years people say it's back, some years they say it's dead. What do you think?

SW: Well, like I said, it's not the same format anymore. What made our contests great in the 80's with me, Nique, and Michael Jordan was that we had to go head to head. When Nique did a dunk, Michael tried to top it, and vice versa. It's just not that same type of thing anymore. If they had maybe Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, maybe Tracy McGrady and Josh Smith, then maybe you'd see that kind of excitement.

Hawks.com: Will you be watching this weekend?

SW: Yeah, I'll be watching. I will actually be there for an appearance, but I just want to watch. Robinson wants me to participate with him, I think he wants to do like a tribute dunk or something, but I don't really need the spotlight, it's not my personality.

Spud Webb currently resides in Dallas, TX, and often speaks to businesses and at camps about his experiences. Spud is one of only three participants to ever record three perfect 50s in one contest, joining Michael Jordan in 1987 and Hawks F Josh Smith in 2005.

Micah Hart is the Assistant Web Editor for the Atlanta Hawks.