Bulls players and their first-ever dunks

James Johnson (Getty Images)

In the game of basketball, the slam dunk rises literally above the rest. It excites the crowd, it pumps up a team, and it makes the highlight reel with ease.

On Saturday, all eyes will be on the NBA's annual dunk contest, an event that has overshadowed the actual All-Star Game for years. For anyone who has ever played basketball, they've probably dreamed of dunking.

Bulls players are no different.

Even though they now play basketball for a living, their first dunks stand out as milestones in their lives along the same lines as a first kiss. They remember exactly when and where it happened. The dunk, that is.

Here are their stories.

Carlos Boozer

"I was in 7th grade, and me and my boys were hanging out in the gym, and I started dunking tennis balls. Then my boy was like, 'Yo, try a real ball,' and I was real bouncy, a young 13 and went up and I dunked it. It wasn't a strong dunk power dunk, it was kind of a finger-tip dunk, but it worked out good. The first time I dunked in a game was when I was in 8th grade. I was on a breakaway and dunked it real nice. Absolutely a big moment."

Taj Gibson

"I was in New York in Brooklyn on the playground. I worked at it all day trying to dunk, dunk, dunk. I did calf exercises and squats every night, and then finally one day when I was 14 I went up to the rim and I dunked it. It barely went over the rim, but I dunked it. It was a major moment. I was about 6-4. When you dunk, it's like the next big step. You can take the training wheels off, no more layups. The best dunk I ever did was in high school in a game when I did a windmill. Everyone went crazy. I couldn't even believe I did it myself."

Luol Deng

"I was 12 years old back in England. I just held the ball and ran up the court and dunked it. It was me and a couple friends in the gym. I was about 6-2, and they used to make fun of me for not being able to dunk, so when I did, it was huge. It was a big deal. When you're young, you just keep dunking, and I kept doing it."

James Johnson

"It was 8th grade, at my middle school, it was off a missed layup from one of the guards I trailed. I had never dunked before at that time. My mom still calls it a tip-in put-back, but that was my first dunk, and I remember it. I made the rim rattle a little bit. My crowd went crazy, my teammates went crazy, it was fun. It was against a lot of my cousins who were on the opposite team. So it was like, 'I just did this to you.' I was like 5-10. I'm never going to forget that dunk."

Kyle Korver

"My first dunk was my sophomore year of high school in a game of H-O-R-S-E. It was a tough game. I was playing an older guy. It was S to S, and I went up and dunked it and said, 'Game over' because I knew he couldn't dunk. I was 6-4. It was definitely a one-hander. I don't think it was the prettiest dunk in the world, but I think the first time anyone dunks it's a huge memory for them."

Keith Bogans

"I was in 7th grade, in middle school. I didn't think about it. I just went up and did it. It was in a game. Everyone went crazy, I couldn't believe it myself. I was about 6-foot tall. After that I was trying to dunk the ball every time I got on a break."

Kurt Thomas

"I had been working on it. I was in high school. I didn't start really playing until I was a sophomore. I wasn't much of a high jumper in 8th and 9th grade, and when I finally dunked, I couldn't believe it. It was one of the best feelings ever to dunk. I was playing alone on the blacktop. I was doing whatever I could do to really improve my jumping ability. Back then they had those shoe with those things on the front. I was doing whatever I could do to dunk. I was like 6-4."

C.J. Watson

"I was in high school, a junior, and I had been working on my jumping ability. It was fun to work on. It was a fast break, and I went up and dunked it and dunked it pretty hard in a summer-league game. It was cool. I was about 5-10. It was up there for me because I had been working on it for so long. I was doing all that kind of stuff you see in the magazines."

Brian Scalabrine

"It was in my sophomore year of high school in the state tournament I went and saw a player play, Omm'A Givens who signed with UCLA but didn't do a whole lot after that, and I was inspired by him and I went out and just dunked. I was pumped. I wanted to take my game to a new level. I was like 6-4."

Scott Bolohan is a RedEye special contributor.

Slam Dunk contest

8 p.m. Saturday, TNT