One of the absolute biggest “David and Goliath” moments in sports took place when the 5’7 (which is being generous) Spud Webb won the 1986 Slam Dunk Championship over one of the best dunkers of all time, Dominique Wilkins (who was also Webb’s teammate at the time). While this is without a doubt his biggest and most famous accomplishment, the guy actually had a decade plus long NBA career. I will also take a trip down memory lane and look at the rest of his NBA career as well, not just look at his dunk contest performance.
Spud Webb was born into immense poverty in Dallas, Texas and (from a young age) used basketball as an escape and inspiration in his life. Obviously, Webb was not a tall child, but he used his incredible speed, quickness and jumping ability to outplay and outperform the bigger players. For years, Webb was told he was much too short to play in the NBA but he finally got his chance to play ball on his junior high school team.
Webb immediately showed he was worthy of his spot by playing very well on the junior team. Also, Webb could dunk a basketball when he was only 5’3, which is an absolutely amazing feat. Once moved to the varsity team, he continued his dominance as he averaged 26 points a game. Despite this great performance in high school, Webb didn’t attract very much interest from colleges. Eventually, he got some chances from colleges, but never really had the hype needed to be a top pick. But, he would in fact be drafted.
Before the 1985 Draft, most experts believed that Webb would either play in Europe or for the Harlem Globetrotters. But in a surprising move, Webb would be drafted in the 4th round of that draft by the Detroit Pistons and would go on to play for the Atlanta Hawks, Sacremento Kings and the Minnesota Timberwolves as well.
But easily his most memorable career moment was his performance and victory in the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest. At 5’7 he was (and still is) the shortest player to ever compete. His inclusion and participation in the contest surprised everyone, including his teammate and fellow Dunk Contest competitor Dominique Wilkins. In fact, Webb has since said that before his contest, Wilkins had never even seen him dunk. And not only did Webb compete, his amazing jumping ability and willingness to try some fairly difficult dunks helped him win the dunk contest. To date, he is one of only two players to win the NBA dunk contest at under 6’0, with the other being Nate Robinson who won 20 years after Webb did.
In total, Spud Webb played 814 games in his NBA career and had averages of: 9.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg and 5.3 apg. And while these numbers wont jump off the page at you like some other players, they are extremely respectable and when you take into account he was 5’7 often playing against players over a foot taller than him, it is incredibly impressive.