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Michael Finley's 1997 Dunk Contest performance was odd

Finley's cartwheel dunk is a symbol of a forgotten era.

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Outside of Dirk Nowitzki, any Dallas Mavericks participating in events during All Star Weekend have been a sporadic affair. That's not to say that the Mavs haven't been decently represented, but only nine players other than Nowitzki have played in the All Star Game itself. Beyond that, seven Mavericks have appeared in the 3-Point Contest who weren't named Dirk. He won it in 2006. And six Mavs other than Nowitzki have played in the Rookie-Sophomore Game, now called the Rising Stars Challenge. However, only two players have represented the Mavericks in the Dunk Contest and neither was the Big German.

Tony Dumas appeared in the 1995 one. The only other Maverick to appear in the All Star festivities that season was Jason Kidd, who was in his rookie year. With the Mavericks dwelling below .500, it's a wonder that they had any representatives at all other than the eventual co-Rookie of the Year. Dumas' performance in the Dunk Contest eerily mirrors the futility of the Mavs during the '90s.

Two seasons later, Michael Finley, who was sent to Dallas in the trade that landed Kidd in Phoenix, would revive Dallas' dunking dreams. He was one of three Mavs to participate in All Star Weekend that year. Samaki Walker appeared in the Rookie-Sophomore Game and Chris Gatling was Dallas' lone All Star. (The Mavericks had an interesting roster.)

Finley was runner up in the previous season's Dunk Contest, losing to Brent Barry. (No, that's not a typo.) Now, Finley found himself competing against the likes of Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Chris Carr, Darvin Ham, and Bob Sura. As a veteran of the competition, Finley knew the stakes and kept his composure.

After missing his first dunk attempt, Finley connected on his next two. His first round score of 39 was just enough to squeak into the second round where he was pitted against Bryant and Carr. It was in this round that he attempted one of the most puzzling, haphazard, ill-conceived, yet remarkably brazen dunks in the history of the competition.

On his second attempt, Finley bounced the basketball far enough and high enough to his liking. He ran towards the ball and attempted to perform a cartwheel before catching and dunking the ball. It didn't go so well. What transpired is something that can only be described as a crab tumbling down a sandy embankment with the attempt resulting in a quarter tumble (that's being generous) followed by a missed dunk.

The sheer ugliness of the try sent roars of laughter through the crowd. Dikembe Mutombo, historically the most animated spectator at the Dunk Contest, seemed thoroughly amused. It was all in good fun until one of the announcers said, "Give him a skirt," during the replay. F--king misogynist.

Michael Finley did not win the 1997 Dunk Contest. That honor went to Bryant. However, just maybe, if Finley completes his second round cartwheel dunk, he captures the crown. Instead, it will go down as another, in a very long list, of oddities that became the narrative of the Mavericks during their lost decade.