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Spud Webb: The Story Of The Shortest Slam Dunk Champion

Spud Webb: The Story Of The Shortest Slam Dunk Champion

The NBA has had its share of incredible dunkers in its history. From Julius “Dr. J” Erving's free throw flying dunk, to Michael Jordan double-clutching from the free-throw line.

Then you had Vince Carter putting on the most incredible slam dunk performance in 2000. You also had great in game dunkers from Shaquille O'Neal tearing down the entire goal, to Dominique “The Human Highlight Film” Wilkins destroying the rim on every dunk.

But do many people remember one of Wilkins' teammates, a slam dunk champion who only stood 5'6'?

If you don't know who I'm talking about, get ready to learn about the shortest slam dunk champion in NBA history… Spud Webb.

Spud Webb was born Michael Anthony Jerome Webb on July 13, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.

Webb grew up in a poverty-stricken area, and he wanted out, but he didn't know how to get out. Then, Webb discovered basketball, and he knew this was the way.

The problem was Webb only stood 5'3' in high school, which was extremely small for basketball, even in high school.

What Webb lacked in height, he made up in speed and athletic ability. But his impressive basketball skills nearly went unnoticed by college scouts.

College Career

After Webb graduated from high school, he received little interest from colleges. He originally was recruited by his further NBA agent and then North Texas Basketball Coach, Bill Blakeley.

Webb wouldn't play for North Texas, instead, he'd play for Midland College, a small public college in Midland, Texas.

Webb led Midland College to the junior college national title in 1982. He scored 36 against unbeaten Miami-Dade North of Florida in the title game.

This performance helped Webb gain attention from a few bigger schools, but Webb wanted to play for Coach Bill Blakeley.

The problem for Webb was that Coach Blakeley was fired in May 1983. Coach Blakeley felt so highly of Webb that he reached out to a friend, who happened to be an assistant coach at North Carolina State University.

After watching Webb play in a summer league game at MLK Recreation Center, the assistant coach from North Carolina State University asked Head Coach Jim Valvano to meet with Webb.

Coach Valvano met with Webb, and he became impressed with Webb's ability, and he offered Webb a scholarship.

Webb grew to 5'6' in college, and he was measured to have a 42-inch vertical leap, which was an impressive feat that would help him enter the national spotlight later in his NBA career.

After two solid years at North Carolina State University, where he averaged 10.4 points and 5.7 assists per game, Webb was ready to enter the NBA Draft.

NBA Career

The odds were against Webb when he entered the NBA Draft. Most scouts believed Webb wouldn't be drafted, and he'd end up playing basketball in Europe.

Instead, in the fourth round of the draft, the Detroit Pistons selected Webb with the 87th overall pick.

The Pistons selected Webb despite having a guard-heavy team. With this being the case in Detroit, the Pistons ended up releasing before the season started.

Webb's now agent, Bill Blakeley, set up a tryout for Webb with the Atlanta Hawks. There, Webb outperformed some veteran guards to earn a spot on the team.

Webb played six years in Atlanta, usually as a sixth man, before being traded to the Sacramento Kings, where he found himself as a starter.

In Atlanta, Webb averaged 7.7 points per game. In four years with Sacramento, Webb raised his scoring to 13.7 points per game.

After his four years in Sacramento, the Kings traded him back to Atlanta, where he'd play 51 games before being traded during the season to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Webb finished his career in the NBA as a member of the Orlando Magic in the 1997-98 season. He played only four games with the Magic before retiring.

Webb's career was that of an average NBA player. His rise to fame came not during an NBA game, but during the ever-so-popular Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend.

Slam Dunk Champ

The 1986 Slam Dunk contest featured a great list of slam dunk participants. Gerald Wilkins, Jerome Kersey, and the Human Highlight Film himself, Dominique Wilkins, highlighted the contest.

The participant who stood shoulders above the rest on this night was 5'6' Spud Webb.

Webb's teammate, Dominique Wilkins, was the heavy favorite to win the contest since he won the previous year.

But in the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest, the shortest man would soar the highest.

Webb excited the crowd with every dunk, and his scores were enough to beat his opponents. One by one, the other contestants were eliminated. Then, in the final round, Webb would face off against his teammate, Wilkins.

“I can’t describe the dunks,” Webb said about the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest. “It’s just something I go out and do. Leaping is just a God-given talent, and it’s something I try to keep.”

Webb started the final round out with a 360-degree, one-handed tomahawk slam dunk. This scored him a perfect 50.

Wilkins matched Webb's score with a 50 on his first dunk, so it came down to Webb's second dunk.

Webb bounced the ball off the floor, it hit off the backboard and one hand slammed it home. This dunk gave him another 50.

Wilkins second dunk only scored him a 48, giving Webb the title of Slam Dunk Champion.

This Slam Dunk Contest win cemented Webb's place in NBA history and inspired every basketball player under six feet that they could achieve anything.


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