Earlier this week, Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard and local developer Pat Connaughton was invited to compete in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest during next weekend’s All-Star Game festivities. The honor to participate in All-Star Weekend’s most exciting event comes after the #LetPatDunk movement took NBA Twitter by storm and, well, after Connaughton earned consideration with some seriously nasty dunks the first half of the 2019-20 season.
The Bucks bench player has the opportunity to showcase his unexpected ups on a national stage and he has at least an outside chance to dunk his way into basketball history if he somehow manages win. Should Connaughton manage to win the title of Slam Dunk Contest champion, he’d also make Milwaukee basketball history by being the first Bucks players to win the contest. He’d also be the first Bucks player to even come close to winning it.
In the 36 years since the NBA Slam Dunk Contest started, only three other players competed in the event while they were members of the Milwaukee Bucks organization. Though we’re not exactly in a position to criticize the quality of dunks, we’ll just say that none of those players wowed the sports world with their performance. As we wait to see if Connaughton has better luck next weekend, let’s take a look back at the short and unspectacular history of Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
Paul Pressey (1986)
Longtime Bucks forward Paul Pressey is probably best-known for his defense. However, the two-time NBA All-Defensive Team First Teamer also has the distinction of being the first Milwaukee player to partake in the Slam Dunk Contest. The 1986 competition—the third year in the contest’s history—found Pressey taking on defending champion Dominique Wilkins and his Hawks teammate Spud Webb, Jerome Kersey, and a field of four other players. Following a few “cradle” dunks from Pressey, the first Bucks Dunk Contest appearance was over after a single round. Pressey’s 116 points put him in 6th place overall in an event that was eventually won by 5’7″ phenom Spud Webb.
Ray Allen (1997)
Today, we know Ray Allen as one of the best three-point shooters in NBA history. However, when Allen was midway through the first season of his 18-year Hall Of Fame career, the Bucks rookie was evidently considered a slam dunk threat for some reason. Allen’s 35 points in his one and only round of the competition put him in a tie for last place with Bob Sura. Kobe Bryant would eventually take home the trophy. Current Bucks assistant Darvin Ham (then with the Nuggets) also competed and edged Allen out by one point to finish fourth. Don’t feel bad for Allen, though. He’d win the Three-Point Contest—an event far better-suited for his skills—as a Bucks player during the All-Star Game in 2001.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (2015)
If Giannis Antetokounmpo decided to be part in this year’s Slam Dunk Contest, he’d be the odds-on favorite by a long shot. It’s safe to say that wasn’t the case when the scrawny second-year player took part in the 2015 event. The Greek Freak’s pair of qualifying slams earned him a total score of 65 points, the lowest of the four-player field that also featured Mason Plumlee, Victor Oladipo, and winner Zach LaVine. Though we’d love to see what Giannis would bring to this year’s contest, we totally understand why it’d be a bad idea to risk a dunk-related injury and, with it, the fate of Milwaukee’s ongoing title run.
Pat Connaughton (2020)
Only time will tell if Connaughton will be able to overtake a field of competitors that also includes Aaron Gordon, Derrick Jones Jr., and 2008 Slam Dunk Contest champ Dwight Howard. Win or lose, the Milwaukee reserve is already in an exclusive club with some great Bucks players who each had lackluster showings in the event. Anything Connaughton does beyond simply showing up for the contest can be considered a bonus.