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Spud Webb
Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images Q&A with Spud Webb

By Andrew Pearson,
Posted Oct 31 2008 8:51AM's Andrew Pearson caught up with 1986 slam-dunk contest winner Anthony "Spud" Webb to get his thoughts on the NBA All-Star Game returning to Dallas. As a Dallas native, what does it mean to you to have this game back in your hometown?

Spud Webb: It's a year I've been waiting for. I thought [Mark] Cuban and the Mavericks would have it here when they got the new arena, but I guess Jerry Jones beat them to the punch with the new football stadium. I'm looking forward to a crowded city with Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. It should be great for it. It can accommodate everybody and Dallas is a growing and great city, so people will enjoy it.


• Garcia: Texas-sized approach to All-Star Game
• Official release: 2010 All-Star Game headed to Dallas
• Video flashback: '86 Slam Dunk Contest | Top 10 plays from 1986
Photos: 1986 All-Star Game | 1986 Slam Dunk Contest
More All-Star Game history, photos and more When people stop you on the street, what is the one thing they say to you?

Spud Webb: "Can you still dunk?" That's what they always say. That's something you remember, that you won it in your hometown. It's amazing how many people knew I was from Dallas when I won it. It's a good memory for people because not many guys my size are in a dunk contest. How did you get selected for the contest?

Spud Webb: I haven't figured that out yet. I think it was Stan Kasten. He was the General Manager of the Hawks at the time. He came to me and asked if I wanted to be in the dunk contest. I couldn't believe he asked me because it's not like I was sitting around after practice slam dunking or doing anything like that. I was so busy trying to learn the game since I was a rookie. Actually, the night before I had to go do the Johnny Carson Show. I think Johnny Carson was just planned and the dunk contest thing just happened. They happened to ask me to be in the dunk contest after that. So I had to fly all the way to L.A. and then get a helicopter to the airport and make it back in time for the last flight to Dallas. It's not like I got to practice. Plus, I twisted my ankle the last game we played before the break, so I just went off of the dunks I was doing in high school and college. Did anyone offer suggestions for your dunks?

Spud Webb: I just winged it as I got out there. Calvin Murphy (one of the dunk judges) was prepping me along. When I was growing up and we had finished playing about 200 games all day, guys would sit around doing slam dunks and that's where I got those dunks from. Those are the ones I would practice during the summer time. So when it was time to come do them, they were dunks that were in my repertoire for the last four or five years. So when was the first time you dunked a basketball?

Spud Webb: The first time was the summer before my senior year in high school, but I was probably only 4-foot-11 or something. All the guys in the neighborhood would do it, so I was just trying all those years and I finally got one and it became easy after that. What was the reaction at the park when you threw that first one down?

Spud Webb: They were like, "It's about time you tear up the rim!" You can tell the amazement on people's faces when you go around the country and people see that a guy my size can do those kinds of things. They don't know whether to clap or laugh. What's even more amazing is that you couldn't palm the basketball. How much of a factor was that during the contest?

Spud Webb: I wish I could palm the ball. It would have been easier to do a lot of the dunks that some of the other guys did. It just made me have to hang in the air a little longer. I had to cup it a little bit.


• Garcia: Texas-sized approach to All-Star Game
• Official release: 2010 All-Star Game headed to Dallas
• Video flashback: '86 Slam Dunk Contest | Top 10 plays from 1986
Photos: 1986 All-Star Game | 1986 Slam Dunk Contest
More All-Star Game history, photos and more As this contest was progressing, what kind of trash talk was flowing on the sidelines?

Spud Webb: Calvin was telling me to keep it up and all that, but Dominique [Wilkins] had never seen me do those dunks, so he was surprised too. That's why you see him chatting on the sidelines like, "Gee, I didn't see you do that before." We still talk about it. Actually we were talking about it this past weekend. He had never seen me dunk either. I just never did them. After practice I usually worked with Doc Rivers on my game, so I never sat around and dunked and dunked and dunked. Dominique had seen me do one or two dunks in the game, but I don't think he knew I could do all of those. Do you have a favorite from the contest?

Spud Webb: I loved the 360. I could do that dunk all the time. Then the alley oop. I think once I started throwing the ball up in the air, then every dunk contest everyone was throwing the ball up in the air and catching it. Who did you think your top competition would be?

Spud Webb: I knew the repertoire of dunks I could do. But in your mind you're like, Can I beat Dominique Wilkins? That is once in a lifetime. If we dunked 100 more times he'd probably win all of them. It's just that day I had more than he did I guess. Once the contest was over and you were handed the trophy, what went through your mind?

Spud Webb: It was good because if you bomb in your hometown it's all they remember. I got lucky enough to put on a good performance to win and people remember it for years. Even when I go around town now, you see guys talking about where they were or they were there that day. Plus a lot of my friends were there, so it was pretty special. How come you didn't compete the next year in 1987?

Spud Webb: I was hurt. What was your favorite memory of the weekend aside from the Dunk Contest?

Spud Webb: Just seeing the guys that you watched all your life like Dr. J, Cazzie Russell, Nate Archibald, Maurice Cheeks. You just don't know whether you should go up and say something or stand back and let them watch you staring at them. You try to just say anything without being stupid. Stepping away from the dunk contest, what was the most underrated part of your game?

Spud Webb: Maybe my shooting later in my career. I shot a lot better my last six years in the NBA. I led the league in free throw percentage for the whole year in 1995. Nobody ever mentions that. I just think my durability at my size to go out and play hard every night. What is Spud Webb up to these days?

Spud Webb: I'm just living in Dallas now. I have a lot of commercial real estate that I bought when I was playing. I'm doing a little traveling, the speaking circuit with kids camps and corporations, and I'm an avid golfer, so I try to play golf every day.

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