BIG3 Nate Robinson
Ronald Martinez | BIG3/Getty Images

To most February 14, 2009 was just another Valentine’s Day.

For former Knicks point guard Nate Robinson and all of the New York faithful, it’s an epic night of basketball history. On that night, the 5-foot-9 sensation won his second of three Slam Dunk Contests when he jumped over the 6-foot-11 Dwight Howard and dunked the ball.

Robinson, who recently partnered with Playmaker while battling kidney disease, recently spoke with ESNY and discussed the viral dunk. After their shared agent got them in touch, the man who’d later be called “KryptoNate” knew exactly what he wanted to do.

“I said, ‘Bro, I got this dunk and it’s gonna be memorable. We’re gonna make history with it, but I need your assistance,'” Robinson told Howard. “‘I need Superman. I’m KryptoNate, I need Superman.’ 

“I said, ‘I want to jump over you,’ and he looked at me. He said, ‘First of all, can you do it?'”

The rest, as they say, is history. Robinson and Howard got together in the gym and practiced, practiced, practiced. When Robinson cleared his much taller counterpart, Howard could only respond with, “Oh my God, you cleared me!”

Of course, Robinson jumping and dunking over Howard meant beating him in the final round of that year’s Dunk Contest. Today, he still looks back on it fondly.

“It’s pretty cool, man,” Robinson said with a soft chuckle. “Me and Dwight kind of took the NBA Dunk Contest by storm with our antics and our entertainment. I think it was awesome with the whole Superman thing. The cape, him coming out the booth, dunking on two hoops. Changing in the booth. The whole thing. I think we did a pretty good job of bringing the fun back to the Dunk Contest and what it’s supposed to stand for.”

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Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.