Dominique Wilkins, "The Human Highlight Film," talks judging the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest (2:32), Michael Jordan's degree of difficulty (4:17), the idea of bringing big names back to the Slam Dunk Contest (5:29), his dream Dunk Contest among current players (7:18), his picks for an over-55 Dunk Contest (8:50), the necessary circumstances for him to still dunk (9:20) and Paul Millsap's stardom in Atlanta (10:53).
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Dominique Wilkins retired from the NBA 18 years ago, but it feels like he's still a fixture at NBA All-Star Weekend. "The Human Highlight Film" is in New Orleans this weekend in his usual spot as a judge for the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest. The five-time contestant and two-time champion will sit at the table alongside David Robinson, Gary Payton, Chris Webber and Alonzo Mourning. Last year's runner-up, Aaron Gordon, headlines a cast that includes DeAndre Jordan, Derrick Jones Jr. and Glenn Robinson III.
Wilkins joined ThePostGame Podcast by phone from New Orleans and talked about his rivalry with Michael Jordan, back-to-back champion Zach LaVine's effect on the contest and his current dunking ability. He also imagined a four-man legends dunk-off. Here are the highlights:
ThePostGame: You keep talking about creativity and degree of difficulty. We know who won, but who had more creativity and who created a better degree of difficulty, you or Michael Jordan?
DOMINIQUE WILKINS: You know what, I'll say it like this. No matter what you saw from Michael and myself, you got your money's worth. Everything we did was a degree of difficulty.
TPG: How many times did Gary actually dunk in a game?
WILKINS: I don't know. He may have dunked four or five times throughout his career.
TPG: Do you enjoy a dunk contest the way it is now with these young guys, not the big brand names that once upon a time there were, like you and Michael. And then you had Kobe [Bryant] and Vince [Carter] and Steve Francis. Would the NBA be better off with bigger names in the Dunk Contest?
WILKINS: Man, the bigger names just draw the attention, the crowd. That mystique of the contest, it was really triggered by the star players. Not to have a lot of those guys in it, it took something away from the contest, but guys like [Aaron] Gordon and [Zach] LaVine brought it back. Hopefully these guys can continue to feed upon these energy, but I would love to see the great players do it.
TPG: You can pick any four guys in the NBA right now for your dream Dunk Contest, who are you taking?
WILKINS: I would say LeBron [James]. I would say Blake Griffin. I like Aaron Gordon. I like his aggression. I would put him in there. Uhhh ... I'm trying to think of another guy who is a high-flyer. As far as creativity, there's not a lot of guy who you say, hey, this guy here is gonna stand out in the contest, but those guys who I named are some good ones.
TPG: Who do you think would win a LeBron vs. Blake dunk-off?
WILKINS: Man, you know what, that's one that social media would go absolutely nuts on. If those two would go head-to-head, it'd be the most anticipated dunk contest ever if that would happen.
TPG: What does the NBA have to do to encourage these guys to participate in the Dunk Contest?
WILKINS: I don't know. That's a personal decision that guys make. If they want to get in the dunk contest each and every year. I think the guys have so much going on and there's a lot on their plate and so, a lot of times, it's too much I think in their mind.
TPG: If we could do a "four people over age 55" dunk contest, who would you want in that?
WILKINS: Probably me, of course definitely Michael, [Clyde] Drexler (laughs). And probably David Thompson.
Note: Jordan turned 54 on Friday.
TPG: And so my next question is what do we have to do to make this happen?
WILKINS: Dream. (Laughs) It'd be a nice reality show.
TPG: Why not? Can you still dunk?
TPG: How often do you just go out in the backyard and slam down?
WILKINS: Usually, I wait on Fridays because I need a week to warm-up. It takes a minute, man.
TPG: Are these just straight dunks or do you put some moves on?
WILKINS: Nah. Ain't no moves. It's one bounce, go up, that's it.
TPG: Are you ever at Hawks practice just surprising these guys?
WILKINS: Oh, yeah. I'll you tell what. Grant Hill and I, a couple months back, we were at practice. We were just shooting around. Grant Hill was in jeans. He went up and he dunked one. He said, "Nique, what do you say? You think you can do it?" I went up and dunked one, but the problem is I was sore for like two days.
TPG: You were not in jeans though, were you?
WILKINS: I was.
TPG: You gotta be ready.
WILKINS: Yeah, yeah. It was fun, though. That's a nice what I call a Nique-Grant Hill contest, but neither of us won.
Wilkins spoke with ThePostGame on behalf of Verizon, the title sponsor for the Slam Dunk Contest. NBA fans can use the new Verizon Unlimited Data Plan to stream the game directly from their mobile phone or tablet. Verizon stream service Go90 is also producing "Slam Kings," a series involving every Slam Dunk Contest in history.
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