Dennis Smith Jr. Must Avenge the Mavericks' Terrible Slam-Dunk Contest History

The Dallas Mavericks selected Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth pick in the 2017 NBA draft.
The Dallas Mavericks selected Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth pick in the 2017 NBA draft. NBA via Youtube
As a franchise, the Mavericks have done almost everything. They won a championship in 2011. They fielded one of the worst teams in NBA history, going 11-71 during the 1992-93 season. They made one of the greatest comebacks in NBA Finals history in Game 2 of the 2011 Finals, and they suffered through one of the worst Finals collapses, capitulating against the Heat in Game 3 of the 2006 championship series.

The Mavericks have fielded rookies of the year, MVPs and sixth men of the year. In 2006, Dirk Nowitzki won All-Star Weekend's three-point contest. One of the only things no player wearing a Mavericks uniform has never done is something rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. has a chance to do this week — win the slam-dunk contest.

Although the Mavericks have employed plenty of great dunkers over the years, including three — Cedric Ceballos, Vince Carter and Gerald Green — who won the dunk contest while playing for other teams, the Mavs simply haven't been representing in the league's high-flying showcase.

It took until 1995, the team's 15th year of existence, for the Mavericks to have their first participant in the contest, rookie shooting guard Tony Dumas. It did not go well.

Dumas, who was out of the NBA by 1998, failed to complete a dunk in three attempts and was eliminated in the first round.

Two seasons later, the Mavericks got their second chance in the dunk contest when star small forward Michael Finley was invited to participate in Cleveland. While Finley managed to get the ball in the hoop, he hardly impressed, failing to break the 40-point mark — out of a possible 50 — in either the first or second round and eventually losing to Kobe Bryant.

There is ample reason to hope that Smith, the team's third player to compete, can right this wrong. Throughout his time at North Carolina State and with the Mavericks, he's shown that he's a high-flyer capable of spectacular finishes around the rim, regardless of the defense played against him. Against no defense Saturday night in Los Angeles, he could pull off something special when he takes on the Pacers' Victor Oladipo, the Cavs' Larry Nance Jr. and Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell and add a needed bright spot to an otherwise awful Mavs 2018 campaign.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young