Basil Hampton, also known as “Doc Rise,” estimates with Macker dunk contests on the tour and dunk contests put on by other groups he competed in as many as 125 contests over a six or seven-year stretch. In one year on the Gus Macker World Tour he remembers winning 17 dunk contests – consecutively.
Steve Prawdzik, a marketing company owner from Grand Rapids who worked with Gus Macker Basketball at the time, embarked on a campaign to get Basil in the NBA Dunk Contest on NBA All-Star Weekend as the “people’s choice, regular-guy, Rocky kind of guy dunker.” USA Today wrote a story about it, though it never came to fruition. Project was able to help get Basil in as a halftime exhibition dunk act at NBA games in Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee among others.
“I went from Gus Macker to Gus Macker, and there would be serious competition from college players, guys that went on to the NBA, great athletes,” Basil said. “There were a lot of other dunk contests by other people, too. I was organized and traveled from contest to contest, and then I did the shows at NBA games, too. It was a fun time, a different world. I really enjoyed it.”
Scott McNeal, Macker owner and co-founder also known as Gus Macker, calls Basil one of a handful of many great Macker dunkers who found a way to stand out.
“There were maybe 10 incredible dunkers in his era or right in that time when he was dunking, and all have an argument to be in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “There was Rodney Glassnor, and Jack Kelly, and Dave Stewart, and Icy Mike. Icy Mike won a dunk contest in Belding one year that got him a small role in the movie “Heaven is a Playground.”
“What sets Basil apart is that he had a promotional spin to him, and he made sure to hit all the big tournaments. And then he was a really flashy dunker. He was acrobatic. I always said he was like ballet in the air. The thing with Basil though was after all the spins he would really throw the dunk down with authority, too. A lot of the guys with the spins are not able to throw it down when they get up there. Basil had the ballet and the power at the end.
“Basil deserves to be in our Hall of Fame,” McNeal said. “He had a promoter. They gave out t-shirts. The other guys had an entourage, but not really like Basil. Basil’s guy did all the talking, all the arrangements. It was funny and part of the fun. It was amazing how this group of dunkers came out of our dunk contests.”
Hampton, 56, is a barber and landlord in Jackson and no longer playing basketball. He was born in River Rouge, but moved as a youngster to Jackson where he grew up and has lived since. He didn’t play high school basketball because his religious family didn’t want him to follow the same athletic track as an older brother, but he did play on the playgrounds and soon realized he had a special skill.
He was just 6-foot-1, but with a 49-inch vertical leap he could fly. And spin. And dunk.
“I knew by the ninth grade that I had separated myself; I could clearly see that,” he said. “And you have to remember dunk contests were very popular back then. Dr. J (Julius Erving) was so big, and Michael Jackson and Dominique Wilkins were coming into the game.”