The first few years of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest featured epic battles between the likes of Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Spud Webb. The best athletes in the NBA would prove their athletic superiority and creativity to not only themselves but all basketball fans during the mid-season classic. During the past ten to fifteen years the Slam Dunk Contest has received a stigma that has driven off all of the NBA’s best players and biggest names. Most analysts and agents claim that big name can only stand to lose respect by competing against lesser known players, or that winning the slam dunk contest carries with it a stigma that the player is only a great dunker and not a player. Frankly, that assessment is simply not true, the dunk contest is just not taken as seriously and anyone who judges a player based solely on a dunk contest is not fit to judge anyone’s basketball skills. Even still, when and why did the dunk contest get this stigma that it can really ruin a player’s career? Perhaps the best test case is looking at the prototypical great dunk who can’t perform well during games, Harold Miner.
Many basketball experts points to the 1993 slam dunk contest as the year that the curse on the winners of the dunk contest started. Harold Miner was a standout player for the USC Trojans, earning player of the year honors over future NBA superstars Shaquille O’ Neal and Alonzo Mourning. During his years at USC Miner earned the nickname “Baby Jordan” for his out of this world athleticism and The Miami Heat selected Harold Miner with the 12th pick of the 1992 draft. While not a very notable NBA player, Miner wowed the basketball world with his gravity defying dunks during the 1993 All Star weekend. Miner could not shake the moniker of a great athlete but poor basketball player and relented to his fans by participating in the 1995 dunk contest. After his second win Miner would only play nineteen games with the Cleveland Cavaliers before retiring from professional basketball.
Since 1996 Harold Miner has never given an interview or appeared in public, his life for the past twelve years has been a complete and total mystery. Some have reported seeing him selling insurance in Florida, while others say he is a real estate agent Ohio or even just a lowly crackhead. Even though Miner posted a stellar ten points a game in severely limited minutes he could just not shake the name of “Baby Jordan” and although his statistical impact on the NBA was minimal, Harold Miner forever tarnished the dunk contest for every budding superstar that came after him.