top of page

Your NBA-Obsessed

Email Newsletter

The Grip is delivered to your inbox every afternoon to please your info-craved basketball mind.


White guys in the dunk contest, explored

Brent Barry

Milwaukee guard Pat Connaughton, a white, is going to be in the 2020 dunk contest.

While unusual, his upcoming appearance is certainly not unprecedented. White guys have a long, thin and generally uncelebrated history in the dunk contest.

The numbers, via our friends at Wikipedia: Since the NBA picked up the gimmick in 1984 -- which it stole from the ABA, mind you -- seven American white guys have participated a total of nine times.

  • 1987 -- Tom Chambers, who owns perhaps the most famous in-game WGD (white guy dunk) 

  • 1990 -- Rex Chapman

  • 1991 -- Chapman, again

  • 1996 -- Brent Barry, more on him in a second

  • 1997 -- Bob Sura

  • 2004 -- Chris Andersen (Birdman)

  • 2005 -- Birdman, again

  • 2012 -- Chase Budinger

  • 2015 -- Mason Plumlee

First off: Tom. Rex. Brent. Bob. Chris. Chase. Mason. You might say these white guys belong in a different type of fraternity.

Secondly: The one white guy to defy the odds was Brent Barry, in San Antonio in 1996. He beat a field of Michael Finley, Greg Minor, Jerry Stackhouse, Doug Christie and Darrell Armstong to earn the title of Only White Guy to Win a Dunk Contest.

His Sistine Chapel was this free throw line jam:

Watch the full video here; there’s a legit buzz among players and fans, and a few shots of Michael Finley definitely thinking, I can’t lose to a white guy.

Barry told a great story involving Charles Barkley and his victory years later on an episode of Open Court:

That day Charles was having lunch on the River Walk in San Antonio. I was sitting with Charles having lunch and Gary Payton was there as well and I just happened to be with my mom and my stepdad at the time, and Charles invited us over, said, ‘Hey, come have lunch with us.’ I said, ‘Charles I gotta go over to do the contest.’ I was getting up from lunch early. … So I get up to go do that. I left my mom and stepdad with Charles, went over to the arena … and ended up winning the dunk contest. And then I saw Charles later, and he goes, ‘I didn’t know you were going to be in the dunk contest!’ I think he thought I was going over to ball boy the game.  

Alas, Barry’s win was an anomaly, not a trend. It’s generally been a tough go for white guys over the years; only two times has one advanced past the first round: Barry in ‘96 and Chapman in ‘91.

Some other notable moments: 

  • Tom Chambers’ historic first WGD in NBA dunk contest history

  • Chase Budinger dunking over Diddy, then for some reason throwing his hat into the crowd

  • Spiky-haired Birdman, pre-tattoos, completing a pretty nice lob to himself off the backboard

  • Rex Chapman’s behind the back self alley-oop

As for Connaughton’s chances, we scoured the internet for a pro-Pat defense.

We found the only one, via Golf Digest, of course, which seems pretty on brand for Golf Digest. The publication ran an article yesterday, entitled:

Whatever you do, don't laugh at Pat Connaughton in the Dunk Contest 

OK, Golf Digest. He do be jumping kinda high, though. 


Let's take this to your inbox. Sign up below.


bottom of page