NBA All-Star Dunk Contest Throwback: When NFL Legends Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin Participated in a Slam Dunk Contest

Published 02/23/2022, 3:29 AM EST

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30 years ago, future HOF Pro-athletes, not from the NBA, battled it out in a Slam Dunk Contest. These included 2x Super Bowl Champion and 1994 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Deion Sanders, along with one of the of the greatest wide receivers of all time in Michael Irvin.

The 2021 Slam Dunk Contest is being widely criticized. Everyone from Skip Bayless to Twitter-verse to the Big Diesel agreed it was an underwhelming affair. But NBA did at least one great thing this weekend as they brought in Browns Defensive End Myles Garrett for the All-Star Celebrity Game.  


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It should be fair to say that Myles Garrett’s highlight reel looked better than the Slam Dunk Contest of 2021. Although, this isn’t the first time non-NBA stars have lit up the wooden court. 

Rewind to the 1992 ‘Foot Locker Slam Fest’

In the 90s, an event took place at the Arizona State University in Tempe. It was an annual affair that saw pro-athletes, not from the NBA, compete in a Slam Dunk Contest. So, pro-athletes from all across sports, including MLB, NFL and track & field, entered the event and showed off their bounce.

ESPN tweeted out a throwback video clip of a Slam Dunk Contest from 1992 and reminded everyone of this lost gem.


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Wilt Chamberlain did the Promo

At the beginning of the above video, you will see Wilt Chamberlain play a teacher to a room full of pro-athletes. It was everything you would expect it to be and then some.

It featured future NFL Hall of Famers such as Michael Irvin, Cris Carter, and Deion Sanders. MLB stars Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. were also present.

Read More: Shaquille O’Neal’s Priceless Reaction During NBA All Star Dunk Contest Sends Fans in a Frenzy

Amidst all these great legends from team sports, a solo man who showed up and showed off. Track & field star and father of current NBA guard Mike Conley Jr, threw down a nasty dunk from the free-throw line in typical Dr J fashion. 

A Twitter user commented on Conley’s dunk, saying, “I know he did long jumps, but…the Mike Conley dunk is still one of the most impressive dunks I’ve ever seen. Man is 6’1 and behind the free throw line.”

They even had NFL legend Deion Sanders Dunking 

Legendary NFL cornerback Deon ‘Prime Time’ Sanders was rocking a fine round hat while on his way to crafty dunks through the night. Chris Carter had some moves as well and a whole lot of attitude as he stepped on the wooden court in style. Michael Irvin threw it down, coming from behind the back, while Sanders and Carter replied with highlight-worthy dunks of their own. 

Carter was a smooth operator, using his tall and wide frame to produce visually appealing dunks. He even had an off-the-backboard pound in. Just serene to watch. And it is even the only Slam Dunk Contest he took part in.


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Safe to say that even though these weren’t top-notch performances, it was more fun watching non-NBA players dunking at a mediocre level than whatever form the Dunk Contest has taken recently. 

Bring back this Slam Dunk Contest and invite NFL, MLB and other star athletes

Knowing that this is not this star’s primary sport makes it all the more exciting. Plus, it generates interest in other sports fans as well. It is like a crossover episode in a TV series. Characters from one of your favorite shows appear on another one of your favorite shows. 


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It was definitely a great crowd-puller and fans across sports could enjoy something like this together. The world needs more football players dunking!

Read More: Charles Barkley Has Tough Take on Kyler Murray’s Social Media Fiasco: “You Can’t Overreact When You’re a Great Player”


Written by:

Utsav Khanna


One take at a time

Utsav Khanna is an NFL sports writer at EssentiallySports. He did his PGDM from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication and went on to work in Public Relations. A deep interest and love for the sport of NFL drew him towards working in Sports Journalism.
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