Let's face it: Dunk contests are always fun. They just are. And few can compete with the annual Powerade Jam Fest which highlights the McDonald's All-American Game, which traditionally is at least as impressive -- if not more so -- than its NBA counterpart.
The 2012 edition certainly lived up to that hype, with the class' top overall recruit, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman High star Shabazz Muhammad edging out fellow uber-recruit Archie Goodwin to claim the dunk contest title. You can see all of Muhammad and Goodwin's dunks from the final round in the video above.
If you're not impressed with those slams, you probably didn't watch closely enough. In the span of three dunks, Goodwin killed a windmill, a nasty through-the-legs number and a reverse through-the-legs slam. He then finished off his entries with a pretty incredible behind-the-back dunk and a terrific, saluting sign off to the crowd.
How could Muhammad beat that? Predominantly by showcasing his freakish athleticism. After beginning with a sick reverse slam and a self-assisted jackhammer of a windmill, Muhammad moved on to his more complicated dunks.
He finished his repertoire by throwing down a dunk with an assist off the side of the backboard, completing the tricky dunk with an ease that would make most NBA All Stars jealous. That came after he essentially won the contest with a single slam on which he received an assist from and elevated above an All-American teammate -- Marion (Iowa) Linn-Mar star Marcus Paige -- after taking off from a toe inside the free throw line.
That's a pretty good way to win a dunk contest, huh?
While Muhammad and Goodwin may have served as the headliners of the contest, they were hardly alone in providing Sports Center worthy highlights. Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus High star Marcus Smart completed a fantastic 360 dunk and Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep star Anthony Bennett put down a ridiculous one-armed windmill.
And then there was Breanna Stewart, the Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) High, UConn-bound star who kicked things off with a dunk herself, stoking up excitement by serving as a legitimate female contestant in the event. In fact, she might have even won the contest if she had completed a dunk in the final round (she received perfect 10s for her earlier slams). You can see Stewart's dunk directly below, and there really is nothing shaky about it. That's a solid slam.
Given all that, is there really any doubt whether the McDonald's contest is better than the NBA's iteration? These are kids who really want to be there, and really want to showcase their skills, which is more than one can say for some of the NBA's contestants these days.
Clearly, that passion shows. Hopefully the finalists will continue to showcase those skills at Kentucky (Goodwin) and wherever Muhammad eventually decides to play, whether that is also with the Wildcats or at UNLV near his high school home.