Michael Jordan 1988 Dunk Contest in Air Jordan 3 “White Cements” Photo via Walter Iooss Jr./SI

The 1988 NBA Dunk Contest is often regarded as the best contest in NBA history and arguing against the claim is a tough one. With former champions, explosive dunkers and drama thrown in, even if you weren’t around during this time you have probably watched the contest on YouTube a few times.

For sneakerheads it is most known for the contest that Michael Jordan won wearing “White Cement” Air Jordan 3’s. It is an important moment of sneaker history with Jordan wearing the shoes that kept him from leaving Nike.

It helped that MJ had the hometown advantage and some suspect scoring lead to his dramatic victory over Dominique Wilkens in the finals.


Jordan was on the verge of leaving Nike but Tinker Hatfield’s design on the AJ3 kept him around. The Jumpman logo was introduced, visible air used and elephant print would enter the sneaker world. So would Jordan have won had the contest been held in say Atlanta? We’ll never know (but doubt it). What we do know is that the contest was one of the greatest of all time with image of Jordan in his Air Jordan 3’s etched into our brain, plastered on our walls and retro cards.

Happy anniversary to the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest.