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Timeline 25: Remembering the night Birdman couldn’t get a dunk to go down

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

On March 6, 1995, The Fan was born. In the 25 years since, a lot has transpired on the fields, courts and ice in Colorado, giving the hosts and listeners who’ve been part of the station during that time plenty to talk about and debate.

During the course of the next few weeks, we’ll take a look back at that history, remembering the good times and the bad, the winners and the losers, the successes and the failures. It’s a series we’re calling “Timeline 25” and it continues today with a look at a one of the funniest moment in Colorado sports history – Chris “Birdman” Andersen’s ill-fated appearance in the 2005 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.


The weekend of February 18-20, 2005 was a big one in the city of Denver. The NBA’s All-Star Weekend was in town, meaning there would be three days of events, parties, star sightings and more around the Mile High City.

While the town was thrilled to host the festivities, there was an air of disappointment surrounding the on-court activities. Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets second-year star, hadn’t been selected to participate in the All-Star Game, which was seen by many as a slight, especially considering that it was being played in his home building.

Instead, Anthony would be relegated to the league’s Rising Stars game, which pitted second-year players against rookies. The team of “sophomores” was loaded with stars, including Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Not surprisingly, they rolled to a 133-106 victory over Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala and the other rookies, with Melo scoring a game-high 31 points and being named Most Valuable Player.

That wasn’t the most-memorable part of the weekend, however. Neither was the game on Sunday, where the East beat the West by a 125-115 count, with Allen Iverson earning MVP honors. The enduring moment would come on Saturday night, during the league’s ever-popular Slam Dunk Contest.

For starters, there was the historical significance of having the event in Denver. The first-ever dunk contest occurred in the Mile High City in 1976 during the ABA’s All-Star Game. Then, the first NBA version happened eight years later, when the league hosted their All-Star Game at McNichols Arena.

In addition, there were some amazing dunks. Amar’e Stoudemire threw down a 360 alley-oop that came off of a soccer-style header from Steve Nash. J.R. Smith, a future Nuggets player, went behind his back before throwing it down. And eventual champion Josh Smith had a monstrous dunk over Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin that brought the crowd to its feet.

But the big moment came when Hornets center, as well as former and future Nugget, Chris Andersen took his turn in the first round.

Back then, there was no time limit for each participant. They simply had to complete two dunks for their turn to be over. For Andersen, that took a long, long time.

In a comical performance, “Birdman” missed dunk after dunk, threw one bad pass after another to himself, and generally misfired on multiple attempts. Finally, after what some counted as 32 tries, he finally threw down his second and final dunk.

Andersen recorded scores of 41 and 36 points, finishing in last place. Josh Smith would beat Stoudemire in the finals, recording a perfect 100 in the last round.

Here’s a look back at Birdman’s rough day at the office:


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