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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. 


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