DOMINIQUE WILKINS: I never prepared for a dunk contest. The dunks just came. If I told you how I came up with the windmill, you wouldn't believe it. I was in high school, messing around one day in practice, and we were trying to see who could do the craziest thing with the ball. That's what I did. I like the windmill because it combines style and power and grace—and a little jumping ability, I might add. I didn't practice it. I didn't spend a whole lot of time trying to perfect it. I did it in high school games.
(Bulls photographer): I had seen Michael in practice and knew he was going to try the free-throw-line dunk. But I didn't know when. I put a lot of calculation into where I positioned myself. I wanted to show the divide between the basket and the free throw line, the whole expanse under him, so I held a spot on the sideline between the basket and the line, a little closer to the basket. I had a Canon camera with a regular 50-millimeter lens, nothing exotic. I was using strobe lights, mounted up in the catwalks, and when you shoot with strobes the camera takes a second or two to recycle. The flashes don't go that fast. I had only one chance to get the shot.
(former NBA star and '88 dunk contest judge): When you're judging a dunk contest, you're asking yourself, What moves you? That's basically it.
"Are you kidding? How can that be?"
HAWKINS: We gave Michael 47 out of 50 on his second dunk of the finals. The crowd was booing and throwing cups at us. They were yelling, "How dare you give Michael a 47!" Everything he did was encased in gold, and if you didn't see it that way, you pissed people off. I was fully aware that we were on Michael's turf, but I was there to judge a contest and give an honest rendering. I played in world championships against Boston in the '60s. I wasn't going to be intimidated.
HARPER: Now let's talk about Dominique's last dunk, which was right after Michael got the 47. It was a two-handed windmill. It was awesome.
WILKINS: I attacked the rim. It was powerful. It was ferocious. It was my best dunk.
KERSEY: He was so high off the ground, with such power and grace, that all the players on the bench were saying, "Fifty." His first two dunks of the finals were 50s. But for some reason they gave him 45 on the last one. It was like, Are you kidding? How can that be? We just looked at one another on the bench and ducked our heads. The expression on Nique's face was, What do I have to do here?
WILKINS: I don't know what they were watching.
NEAL: When I grew up in Chicago, Richard J. Daley was the mayor. I know how Chicago votes things in. But despite all the political history, I wasn't prepared for the 45. It stunned me.