Jordan’s Top Moments #9 The Birth of Air

“Expectations in Chicago are out of this world.” -Dominique Wilkins

Air Jordan.

If you have no idea what that means then 1) Why are you reading this post? and 2) Do you live under a rock?

OK maybe that was a little mean but Jordan taking off from the free throw line is one of the most iconic pictures in all of sports. If you have watched Jordan dunk just once, you realize that humans aren’t suppose to float, but of course MJ did.

Before the 1988 Dunk Contest, there was a one man show who needed no further adjectives to describe him. Simply known as “The Human Highlight Reel.” Do yourself a favor and YouTube Dominique Wilkins, what you will find are some of the greatest dunks and most athletic plays in the history of sports. Nobody in the history of the NBA will ever take over games by just dunking, not Blake Griffin, not Dwight Howard. So when it was time for ultimate match-up in Chicago in 1988, Jordan and Wilkins put on a show that will never be duplicated or come close to as good.


This was the first time MJ and Dominique met during a dunk contest that many people forget because ’88 was so epic. This dunk contest featured Wilkins (the favorite) Julius Erving (1st winner of the dunk contest) Clyde “the Glyde” Drexler and MJ, who showed up in sweats, a black shirt, a red vest and the classic gold chain around his neck. With such an All-Star cast, who thought the rook would impress? Well, impress he did. After tying with another contestant, Jordan took off the t-shirt and the sweats and was fully uniformed for his iconic “Cradle Dunk” that landed him in the finals against Dominique ultimately. But Dominique took it to another level and grabbed the  title. But Jordan would be back.


After 2 years of a layoff from Wilkins, the stage was set for the two to take over Chicago. By now Jordan had made a name for himself for his incredible play and high-flying dunks and also putting on a show for the ages in Seattle with Dominique out. I could describe for you what happened, instead grab the popcorn and take a look back in history…

Yeah it gave me chills too. Rocking the those pure white Jay’s, jumping from the free throw line. That type of duel with that much hype will never happen again. As we would learn fairly quickly, Jordan met and exceeded expectations in the Windy City. Controversy with the 45 at the end? Nah.



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