THE HISTORY OF THE 720
Throughout the 80s and 90s, a 360 dunk was impressive enough to get you a high 40 or a 50 in a dunk contest, even though most 360 dunks were actually closer to a 180 or 240 dunk. It was also the go-to show-off game dunk that was a step up from a reverse dunk, which has been replaced by the windmill.
Then in the late 90s, Kobe and Vince Carter started throwing down 360 dunks in games on a regular basis. So it was only a matter of time that somebody took it to another level and that player was a high school kid named Jason Richardson, who supposedly pulled off a 540 dunk at the 1999 Magic’s Roundball Classic.
There’s no known video proof of the future NBA dunk champion’s dunk, but a year later, we thought we were finally going to see the dunk happen when Vince Carter entered the NBA dunk contest (thanks to Kenny Smith for convincing Vince to accept on television). But Vince wasn’t going to do a 540, he was supposedly going to try a 720…well, according to Tony Montana/Shaq.
After Vince threw down an unseen-by-most 36o windmill, Shaq told Reggie Theus Vince told him he was going to do the impossible 720 dunk. He didn’t attempt it, but he did give most audiences their first sighting of an elbow hang dunk and a between the legs off two feet.
Six years went by without any buzz about 540 and 720 sightings and then in 2006, at an And1 Game in Houston, TX, local streetballer Taurian Fontenette aka The Air Up There, shocked the world by executing a 720 dunk in a game! TJ turned into an overnight sensation and was asked to perform the dunk on morning shows, ESPN shows and even in a television commercial (above). Although the initial And1 dunk gets the most attention, Air Up There, now known to many as Mr 720, performed the dunk in another game and that would be the last accepted 720 on a regulation rim we have seen.
There have been lots of 540 dunks posted online that have been called 720 dunks since that day but none of them are as close to a 720 as Air Up There’s dunks.
Then in early 2014, there was buzz about Ben McLemore trying the dunk in the 2014 NBA dunk contest. Because of the horrible constantly-changing format of the contest, he didn’t advance far enough to try (and most likely miss) it. Oh well, maybe next year he will be able to show us a “720” although, I’ll be really happy if he just does a 540…that’s closer to a 360…or a 360 that’s called a 540. You get the point.