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Throwback Thursday: Dee Brown and The Reebok Pump Takeover The ’91 NBA Dunk Contest

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By Drew Hammell

On February 9th, 1991, the NBA hosted the Slam Dunk Contest in Charlotte, North Carolina. The event featured eight players in the primes of their careers: Kenny Smith, Blue Edwards, Rex Chapman, Otis Smith, Kenny Williams, Kendall Gill, Shawn Kemp, and Dee Brown.

At 6’1”, the Celtics’ rookie point guard displayed some serious leaping ability with an array of spectacular dunks. Even though Seattle’s Shawn Kemp showed off some difficult dunks throughout the contest, it was Brown’s creativity that would earn him the win. Before each dunk, Brown bent down to pump up his flashy new kicks, which helped win the crowd over. His final jam, the “No-See Dee,” became an iconic image from the event.

Brown’s ability to soar to unimaginable heights was the inspiration for the Reebok Omni Zone Pump ad campaign in New York City. In the commercial, Brown attempts the “King Kong Dunk,” in which a rim was perilously mounted high atop the Empire State Building in Midtown, Manhattan. With three quick pumps of his sneakers, Brown was able to rise up and conquer the tower (actual dunk not shown).

The Pump would go down as one of Reebok’s greatest contributions to the sneaker world – a technology that other major brands would attempt to imitate. Not only did the orange basketball-shaped Pump look cool, the technology actually kept the foot snugger inside the shoe. Nike and LA Gear would implement similar technologies in some of their sneakers, but none were as aesthetically pleasing or marketed quite like Reebok’s.

As for Dee Brown, he would go on to play in the NBA until 2002. He spent eight years with the Celtics, two with the Raptors, and two with the Magic. He is currently in charge of Player Programs for the LA Clippers.

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