ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 7: John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks goes up for dunk against the Toronto Raptors on February 7, 2019 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

John Collins Hoping To Continue Hawks Legacy In Dunk Contest

Author: Kevin L. Chouinard

Twitter: @KLChouinard

The Atlanta Hawks have a long and unmatched history in the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest. John Collins hopes to add to that legend when he competes in the 2019 AT&T Slam Dunk on Saturday, Feb. 16 in Charlotte.

Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb and Josh Smith combined to win four dunk contests while representing the Hawks. Wilkins won twice: in 1985 and 1990. 

"It's in the Hawks' DNA to win one," Collins said, "so I want to be a part of the Hawks' DNA and the Hawks' lineage of guys who have won a Slam Dunk Championship."

Collins will compete against Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo and New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. In the two-round event, each player gets two dunks in the first round, scored on a scale from 30 to 50. The two players with the highest two-dunk combined score advance to the final round. In the finals, both players get the chance to complete two more dunks, and the player with the higher combined scored from the last two dunks wins the event. 

Head coach Lloyd Pierce is happy that Collins is about to get recognized on a national stage at All-Star Weekend.

"I think it's great," Pierce said. "John is a guy who was the 19th pick. He is in that middle ground. There's no hype for the 19th pick. If there's one guy that deserves a little hype and a little recognition, it's John Collins."

Though the Hawks have had a rich history in the event, Collins is the first Hawk to compete in it since Smith did in 2006. In addition to the former Hawks winners, Collins also has a teammate to lean on for experience: Vince Carter. Carter topped Tracy McGrady and Steve Francis in 2000 in one of the event's most competitive fields. 

"There are so many (former Hawks) and then we've got Vince, so there a lot of guys who I could potentially do odes or tributes to," Collins said. "It's a little bit of a ways out, but not too far, so I'll make a decision very soon." 

Pierce hinted that Carter has already been helping Collins prep for the event. 

"My only concern is that he jumps too high," Pierce said with a laugh. "Vince has been educating and been helping him already. John is doing stuff that is so basic to him but bizarre to us, and there's no adrenaline right now. When you know when millions of people are watching and it's a packed house, that's going to be the interesting part. How high is this kid going to jump when he has got adrenaline and he's amped up for it?"

Last year, Collins was disappointed when he didn't get the invite to the event. He channeled his dissatisfaction into a number of unbelievable dunks in the Rising Stars Challenge, including this impossibility from the final minute

"I honestly felt like I had more of a resume to get in last year than I did this year," Collins said. "I definitely accepted the invitation and I'm excited about the competition."

At the same time, Collins wants to live up the Hawks' long history in the event.

"I don't want to come back to Nique empty-handed," he quipped.

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