A No-Look Back: Dee Brown Relives the 1991 Dunk Contest
Sixteen years after his famous "No See Dee" slam that won the 1991 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest in Charlotte, NC, Dee Brown says he's still got three different dunks that nobody's ever seen.
Dee Brown became a household name with his famous no-look stuff at the 1991 Slam Dunk Contest. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty
So the only question is, could he still pull them off today?
"I could pull them off, but you'd have to pull me off the floor afterwards," Brown joked. "After all these years, I've still got a few dunks that people haven't tried before."
These days Brown juggles a hectic life, splitting time between Connecticut and Florida, shuttling between gigs as an NBA analyst for ESPN and the Community Ambassador for the Orlando Magic. He also runs a state of the art basketball training facility in Orlando. But Brown still remembers the '91 contest vividly, and he's excited to see Gerald Green compete with Tyrus Thomas, Dwight Howard and defending champ Nate Robinson in this year's dunk contest at All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas.
Brown is especially interested in this year's Slam Dunk contest for two reasons. Since he works for the Magic, Howard is breathing down his neck looking for dunk ideas for next weekend's Slam Dunk contest in Las Vegas. But Brown says his allegiance is torn between the team he works for and the Boston Celtics, the team that drafted him and for which he played over seven seasons.
Brown still follows the Celtics and thinks that Green has a great shot to win the contest.
"I've seen him do some amazing dunks this season so I was happy when he got into the contest," said Brown, who says that Green's dunking style reminds him of two-time dunk contest champion Harold Minor.
"He has such quick hops," said Brown. "He reminds me a little bit of Jordan how he gets up so quickly, or Jason Richardson. But I think Harold Minor is the guy who really comes to mind. Minor was just a power dunker but he jumped so high with windmills, 360s, and things like that."
Brown's interested to see what Green has in store for fans when he tries to become the second Boston Celtics player to win the contest since Brown claimed the title in 1991.
Outside of Boston, Brown was a relative unknown coming into the contest as a rookie, but he did have a reputation as a dunker after winning a dunk-off at the Orlando Classic pre-draft camp the previous spring.
Said Brown, "When my name came up, it was like, 'A Celtic in the dunk contest?'"
Green, who did two stints in the D-League last season and is now getting his first significant stretch of playing time at the expense of injuries to Paul Pierce and Tony Allen, is also something of an unknown on the national scene. But that could all change if Green wins the contest.
Green's been telling reporters that he's got a dunk ready that people will never forget if he pulls it off, but he's remained tight-lipped about what exactly he has up his sleeve for Vegas. He's certainly had plenty of input from Pierce, Allen and others who all want to see Gerald make a name for himself. Brown even suggested that he may call up Green and pass along one of his secret dunks.
Then again, back in Brown's day, he was getting inspiration from unlikely sources.
"The guys who helped me the most were Kevin [McHale] and Larry [Bird]. And I was like, 'you guys haven't dunked in five years and you're going to teach me how to dunk? You can't even dunk anymore!' Brian Shaw, Kevin Gamble, Reggie Lewis and those guys weren't giving me pointers, it was the old guys."
Still, despite all of the planning, Brown says that pumping up his Reeboks and going with the no-look slam were ideas that came to him during the contest, and his showmanship instincts took over.
"That was the first time I'd tried that dunk, during the contest. It just came to me right before that dunk. It just popped in my head that I needed to do something special, a signature dunk that people would remember me by," Brown said. "Everybody remembers Dominique's windmill, Jordan taking off from the foul line, and Spud Webb since he's so small. So I needed something that people were going to talk about."
It certainly worked. Brown's dunk was immortalized on posters that graced bedroom walls all over the country, and he became synonymous with the Reebok Pump, when the only shoe in town was something called the Air Jordan. Once a low-profile rookie who played about 20 minutes a game alongside The Big Three, Dee Brown became a household name.
And when the Celtics hit the road the following week, autograph seekers who found the Celtics team bus buzzed past Bird and McHale and made a Deeline, if you will, for Brown.
"Larry said after the contest, 'Everybody wanted to dunk like Dee and not shoot like me anymore.' Winning the dunk contest put me in a separate category; it was something that had never been done by a Celtic," Brown said.
And despite the dunk contest's perceived irrelevance to actual basketball skill development, Brown says that winning the contest helped him become a more confident player.
"It really gave me confidence that I belonged here. Nobody knew who I was but I ended up having a great rookie year and coming in third in the Rookie of the Year voting, and my game improved after that contest," said Brown.
"Guys were giving me respect and hopefully it will do the same for Gerald if he wins that contest. It should roll over into him being a more confident player, knowing that he's accomplished something that very few players can."