It's about putting on a show and so yes... emotion, tenacity, anticipation... all of that matters! Although he didn't quite reach the same level of power dunking as either Carter or Wilkins, MJ seemed to hang in a manner that made time stand still and might be the best double clutch dunker ever for his ability to move the ball in the air and around defenders. "When you can dunk on somebody, on somebody's head, those are the ones you like.". Some of the best dunking power forwards are all about power and tenacity. Nance gets in out of respect. During his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron was arguably the greatest athlete in NBA history. 0 of 6. McGrady famously had trouble achieving playoff success with the Magic, but every time he'd fight through three defenders and posterize a big man or brilliantly speed past a wing en route to a breakaway dunk, everything seemed possible. His talent was obvious from day one, and it remained so in the NBA. Let's hope the Miami Heat or another team keeps him soaring. Let's hope Westbrook continues to snarl his way to the hole for years to come. But count me among the minority of the crowd more impressed with this yam on Kendrick Perkins. 1. View more comments. over Jonas Valanciunas, casual as it may seem, started way closer to the free-throw line than it seemed on first viewing. Game-winning putbacks at the buzzer. Isaiah Rider, Steve Francis, DeMar DeRozan, Nate Robinson, Desmond Mason, Gerald Green, Dwight Howard, Derrick Jones Jr, Cedric Ceballos, Kenny Walker, Terrence Ross, J.R. Smith, George Gervin and Wilt Chamberlain. Additionally, much like O'Neal before him and, Of course, that window closed quickly for myriad reasons, but Howard's peak remains among the most exciting and groundbreaking periods for a star in recent history. There's something about Wade's particular flair when finishing a dunk that got people even more excited. Example Dunk: Giving Larry Bird an Existential Crisis. Example Dunk: Chris Gatling Shows Respect. If you don't think Francis is an all-time dunker, watch the slam on Jahidi White or his off-balance jam on Quentin Richardson, and you will then. Drew Gordon, New Mexico NCAA best dunk 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 NCAA Tournament 2012: BEST DUNKS 2. Many … But make no mistake, when it comes to power dunking, Kemp reigns as one of the best to ever do it. Kemp was not only an extremely powerful dunker both in space and in traffic, but he boasted handles to match in an era where that was highly unusual for big men. While he, of course, was not even close to Jordan on a talent basis, Drexler was nevertheless spectacular, especially in the air. His opponents had lost before they even knew it. LaVine looks unbothered in the face of a 7-footer and never even seems to consider the possibility he might get stuffed. Whenever Kemp got a rebound and started leading the fast break, opponents knew they were likely in big trouble. 360s on fastbreaks. In large part, it was because of his explosive slams. MORE: Ranking the best Vince and MJ dunks. Two of his most famous slams came against the 7'6" Shawn Bradley and on a reverse baseline jam on defensive legend Ben Wallace. The more cavalier his attitude, the more vicious the dunk, and the greater the humiliation. He's averaging over 25 points per game this season yet is not considered a star. In the 1970s, the dunk held a strange place in competitive basketball. View later. He has won two dunk contests, but one is widely considered, Look at that dunk above. In that vein, Wade earned extra points for the now-iconic, Messing Around and Ending Alex Len's Whole Career, Zach LaVine's reputation is in a strangely negative place. Here's a look back back through the years at some of his best dunks from every year up until joining the Los Angeles Lakers. Some more truth serum? 13:45. This dunk contest has been revered by some as the best dunk contest ever, so the fact that it comes in at third on this list shows just how great numbers two and one are. And yes, Shaq's stats support the fact that he is likely a top-10 or top-15 player in NBA history. Our countdown includes Vince Carter, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, and more! Kobe wouldn't forgive, though. If I'm being completely honest, after watching scores of YouTube videos in an effort to finalize this list, there were several snubs from recent years that are unequivocally better dunkers than many who made the cut from past generations. So without further ado, here is a definitive list of the 23 greatest dunks in NBA history. He had a reported 43-inch vertical, which is among the best ever recorded, but in the air, it often looked like he was jumping even higher, almost resembling Calvin Cambridge from Like Mike. . But there's no question he was one of the best dunkers in history. A collection of injuries sapped McGrady's explosiveness, and he was past his prime before the age of 30. He's averaging over 25 points per game this season yet is not considered a star. Subscribe to our new sports channe The WaterBoys Podcastl! It's a memento of a superteam that knew it was super, but it's also a picture of a young man being excited as his friend made an awesome play. The aforementioned windmills in traffic. He got his start in the fun-loving ABA, which showed basketball could be looser and more aesthetically interesting than the staid Knicks or Boston Celtics would have you think. Therefore, it hasn't taken him long to enter the conversation of the greatest dunkers in NBA history. For this list, we’re looking at the greatest NBA dunks of all-time! He had a reported, , which is among the best ever recorded, but in the air, it often looked like he was jumping even higher, almost resembling Calvin Cambridge from, If you don't think Francis is an all-time dunker, watch the slam on Jahidi White or his off-balance jam on, Kobe posterized everybody from the aforementioned Howard to, The Most Disrespectful Dunk in NBA History, The New York Knicks were at the mercy of the Bulls, and though that particular matchup carried significant animosity, Pippen and the Bulls also. Erving was almost born to be the Father of the Dunk. ), the comparisons between the two were earned. In the 1970s, the dunk held a strange place in competitive basketball. I can relate because, well... let's just say that almost happened when attempting to hold a similar civil discussion with co-workers, which quickly devolved into an absolute madhouse. The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs. Richardson made them look easy year after year. There's a reason why the Dallas Mavericks shut him down in the 2011 NBA Finals: They tried everything to prevent him from reaching the paint. Dr. J brought dunking into the mainstream and ushered in a new era of basketball both in terms of style and substance. At 6'8”, 210 pounds and boasting a versatile skill set, McGrady was widely considered a future MVP candidate, and every time he deposited an emphatic slam, it offered a glimpse into the extent of his powers. The NBA is currently as athletic as it has ever been, meaning fans have been blessed with a variety of highlight slam dunks during the 2018-19 season. It's a shame that Michael Jordan neutralized Clyde Drexler's career as a star with the Shrug Game. There are 10-minute reels of his best in-game dunks with the Raptors and Nets. Nique never cared who was in his way—just that if you stood between him and the basket, you'd be hurting in the morning (physically or psychologically). And none of that even includes his performance in the 2000 Slam Dunk contest, which - again - we're not even considering for the purposes of this exercise. The dunk linked above? It doesn't seem impressive at game speed, but slow motion reveals Drexler starts jumping before the hoop is even in the frame. Example Dunk: The Baptism of Dwight Howard. Of course, the dunks themselves were always spectacular too. While he was a blistering, furious scorer on terra firma, Drexler was always much more graceful when flying through space. There's a reason All-Star Weekend's Slam Dunk Contest has been the last and most-hyped competition on Saturday night for as long as it's existed. There are entire documentaries about him jumping over Frederic Weis at the Olympics. You could argue that given Jordan's competitiveness, his general approach to basketball was malicious, but it especially extends to his aerial activities. If you ever saw Vince Carter running towards you in an attempt to dunk on you, just don’t even try to stop it, honestly just run away. Dwyane Wade will rightly be remembered for incredible clutch moments and a mastery of mid-range and at-rim finishing, but it would be wrong to discuss his play without talking about the dunks. King James' reign over the NBA will eventually end. With the pandemic ending the season prematurely for the bottom eight NBA teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, that means Carter won’t be […] Vince Carter's best dunks ever, ranked from seven to one Translating your skills as a dunker in space, where mistakes are allowed, to a dunker in a team context, where those mistakes can add up, is difficult, and only the best of the best can be elite in-game dunkers. NBA plays of the night | 7-1-2021. However, that only makes his portfolio of dunks even more impressive. I defy anyone to present a more perfect nickname that encapsulates the entirety of a player's persona. Copyright © 2018 NBA. While His Airness' throwdowns weren't as vicious as Russell Westbrook's, and he wasn't as jaw-droppingly athletic as Vince Carter, Jordan understood a dunk's psychological impact—and made sure his slams delivered a message. THEREBOUNDKING 430 View later. His head regularly went above the rim on dunks, and he threw down consistently violent slams both in space and in traffic. Whether it's his Iverson-lite step over Anderson Varejao in the above video or his celebration after a throwdown on Kendrick Perkins, Wade would often turn up the swagger after a dunk, but not in an arrogant way. Carter played an integral role in reinjecting excitement back into the NBA in the immediate aftermath of Michael Jordan's second retirement with the Chicago Bulls. While he was a blistering, furious scorer on. Look, the Slam Dunk Contest is cute but do yourself a favour and. "The If-You-Ain't-Groovin', Best-Get-Movin', Chocolate-Thunder-Flyin', Robinzine-Cryin', Teeth-Shakin', Glass-Breakin', Rump-Roastin', Bun-Toastin', Glass-Still Flyin', Wham-Bam-I-Am-Jam.". Everyone remembers the dunk over Timofey Mozgov and it's spectacular. But for years, he seemed perpetually on the verge of conquering the league—one dunk at a time. In those particular sequences, trash talk was unnecessary. "And I always dunked on somebody.". Zach LaVine's reputation is in a strangely negative place. There were players as big as Shaq, and there were players as quick as Shaq, but nobody was as big and as quick as Superman. Nowadays, Russell Westbrook is often criticized for his erratic style of play, but when he came on the scene in 2008, his athleticism was a sight to behold. In comparison to some of the other illustrious names on this list, Darryl Dawkins' career averages of 12.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game seem small. It also seems ludicrous to leave out Chamberlain, though for as powerful and athletic as he was - especially compared to his contemporaries - he was actually more well known for his deft touch and endless array of flip shots, lay ins and floaters. A dunk contest rematch between LaVine and Aaron Gordon in February in Chicago would have been exciting, but we'll settle for his gravity-defying in-game slams. In November, he threw down a. over a million dollars yearly on his body, but at a certain point, he's also a little lucky. When Richardson dunked, he dunked. There's nothing more exciting in sports than the poster dunk. Pippen consistently humiliated opponents at the rim, and he posterized an unparalleled collection of stars, including Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Alonzo Mourning and Manute Bol. He did it all. You always knew he was just having fun playing the game he loved and wanted others to share in that love. Unlike many players on this list or otherwise, The Glide remained both productive and limber. We've also attached a video of each player's most exemplary in-game dunk to illustrate their prowess in the art of the slam. You can pooh-pooh Bradley's lack of athleticism or Wallace's not directly blocking Richardson's path on that particular play, but the fact is, plays such as those are incredibly difficult to pull off. LeBron James with a dunk, you're doing something right. He may not only have performed arguably one of the best NBA Slam Dunk Contests in nba history, but he is also known to be one of the greatest in-game dunkers in the NBA. He remembers each dunk and breaks down his thought process, revealing a player who's supremely confident in his game-breaking athleticism, almost to the point of fearing it. Whenever people dismiss him as a Hall of Famer, you need only show them highlights of his Orlando Magic years. But perhaps that was all part of his grander plan too. The linked dunk on Gatling is perhaps the shining example of that in recent NBA history. But I'd argue that the dunk contests and the late career shift into the league's quintessential fadeaway artist actually takes away from just how incredible he was as an in-game dunker. NCAA Tournament 2012: BEST DUNKS 1. Only gluttons for punishment would endeavor to rank the NBA's best dunks of the 2019-20 season (so far)(we hope). When Francis jumped to dunk, it seemed like he was always attempting an impossible task. Erving - like Wilt Chamberlain or Stephen Curry - simply played unlike anyone that came before him and it's impossible to overstate what his dunking represented for the evolution of the league. In 2018, the NBA posted a YouTube video of Carter ranking his 10 best dunks, and it is a fascinating five minutes. Attempt to talk it through with someone else who likewise worked themselves into a tizzy and you might come to blows. History matters. Though there were certainly others, Erving represented a shift in the explosiveness of the game with an above the rim flair that captured imaginations and elevated the NBA's entertainment factor to another stratosphere. There are mixtapes about his days dunking in college at UNC. In the ensuing near decade, LeBron's dealt with minor injuries and major minutes, yet he remains one of the league's premiere dunkers. View later. Implemented because of Dawkins. As you can tell, a lot of big names were also incredible dunkers. The Reign Man was picked 17th overall in the 1989 draft, but not for any on-court reasons. The Timofey Mozgov dunk above is the most famous from Griffin's early-career collection, but there are so many others that would be most players' defining moment in the league. It's a shame that Michael Jordan neutralized Clyde Drexler's career as a star with the. of Carter ranking his 10 best dunks, and it is a fascinating five minutes. After Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's overwhelming dominance at UCLA, the NCAA. But what made him so special was his unique physique. While Howard's appropriation of Shaquille O'Neal's Superman nickname has always rubbed some the wrong way (including Shaq himself), the comparisons between the two were earned. No one could ever stop a Vince Carter dunk. The team failed to reach its championship potential, but those Lob City highlights are a sufficient consolation prize. Durant would use his once-in-a-generation scoring talent to make the Oklahoma City Thunder competitive, and Westbrook's ferocity and explosiveness would put teams away in equal measure. The man nicknamed Airplane Mode is either actively trying to make dunks more difficult or doesn't even realize how far and high he's jumping. Click through this slideshow for a look at the 70 greatest dunkers in NBA history. His dunk over Michael Olow0kandi in 2003 is one the nastiest dunks ever seen. Above all else, the 6'4" Thompson loved nothing more than to posterize any and all challengers. In addition to being a versatile offensive player and one of the best perimeter defenders ever, Scottie Pippen had another particularly special talent: dunking. How do you compare the vicious power dunkers with the acrobatic aerial wizards? . Interestingly enough, there's not much footage of Jordan showboating after a dunk, something that would make sense given his uber-sensitivity to even the smallest slights. He's not the best in-game dunker ever, but he's the most important one. Back in 2000, Carter created one of the most-remembered slams, throwing a … Kobe posterized everybody from the aforementioned Howard to Yao Ming to Steve Nash, and the vicious nature of his dunks often surprised teammates and opponents alike. Much of the narrative surrounding Kobe Bryant's career has to do with esoterica such as mid-range footwork and the geometry of certain spots on the court in relation to the basket. When he rose up, the game would momentarily turn into streetball, especially in Miami. But you know the rules. It's impossible to separate Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine who are the peanut butter and jelly of the dunking conversation. So yeah... if you want to move him higher, by all means be my guest. He, along with David Thompson and Julius Erving, helped fans and other players realize that the dunk is one of the most exciting ways to score two points, though only Shaquille O'Neal would ever come close to breaking a backboard again. Example Dunk: Messing Around and Ending Alex Len's Whole Career. Even today, there are very few players who can run a, from coast to coast on one possession and dunk opponents. Afterward, he shrugs and says, "It was just all instinct that took over.". Zion. I'll wait. The four hardest for me here were Rider, Francis, Green and Howard who all did it differently. Carlon Brown, Colorado NCAA best dunk 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 NCAA Tournament 2012: BEST DUNKS 3. More than any other player on this list, Jordan understood dunks as an act of malice. The dunks spoke for themselves, and the lack of response from the GOAT signaled that he was laser-focused on destruction. Resume: Dunk Contest Champion (2011) Nothing about Blake Griffin's game is subtle. The Magic made the Finals in his age-23 season and were perfectly constructed around him, so their title window seemed open for the foreseeable future. If Dr. J brought dunking into the NBA mainstream, Vinsanity brought it into the digital age as the first star to truly make his mark on the YouTube generation. And by "might" I mean you 100% will unless your spirited debate takes place over Zoom in which case you might accidentally launch your computer into a wall or out of the window in disgust. While it ended on poor terms, pairing the greatest passer of the 21st century with the most athletic big man of his time yielded predictably awe-inspiring results night after night. While D-Rose has some A+ dunks, he never came close to regularly inviting and attacking like Westbrook. Russell Westbrook but no Derrick Rose? The dunking montage towards the start of Episode 3 that shows Jordan in the late 80s just swooping in and dunking everything in sight. He fully deserves a top-10 slot. Here's 10 minutes of him dunking. If anybody else did these three dunks in one game, it would be talked about for weeks, but for Griffin, it was just another day at the office. Double-clutch reverses. But he won that prize before emerging as one of the best players in history, so we can forgive opponents for forgetting about his above-the-rim dominance in the ensuing seasons. And who knows, if Wilkins walked away with the 1988 Slam Dunk title instead of Jordan, perhaps the Hall of Famer is remembered even more fondly than he already is. Nearly every single one of them is delivered with a unique intensity, and it's a wonder he's never been seriously injured during a throwdown given that wicked combination of explosiveness and passion. Given that he was undrafted and doesn't have much of a skill set to speak of beyond his phenomenal aerial talent (though he is shooting 51.4 percent from the floor this season and averaging a career-best 8.9 points per game), it's unclear how much longer Jones will stick in the league. Quincy Acy, Baylor NCAA best dunk 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 NCAA Tournament… Fans can hope he has a few more years of gravity defiance in him. It's impossible to mention the first generation of high flyers without mentioning Thompson, who would have gone down as perhaps the greatest dunker in college basketball history had he not played during the time when dunking was outlawed. He never made the conference finals and was eclipsed by the Holy Trinity of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. But again... we're not here to talk about dunk contests! Purists and cynics will look at the slam above, one of the most famous plays in history, and call a travel on Dr. J. At one point, Carter says he didn't know where Jason Kidd would throw the ball on a particular play but that he'd figure it out mid-air. However, the well-earned celebration of Kobe's IQ and work ethic comes at the expense of remembering just how explosive a dunker he was in his prime. It's a simple question yet one fraught with complexity. He made the playoffs only once, lost in the first round and didn't even play 10 seasons in the league. This may seem biased toward more recent players, but we tried to make it as balanced as possible given that the dunk only achieved its popularity in the last 40 years. Unless you're literally dunking OVER someone on said fastbreak. Doesn't matter; T-Mac's on a mission to score 35 every night and drain the life from his opponents. If we celebrate LeBron James and Russell Westbrook for continuing to remain superathletes as they age, we owe Drexler the same retroactive appreciation. If you're going to complain about why someone should be in, you have to take someone out. In recent years, there's been a groundswell of support for the idea that Shaquille O'Neal is underrated. If you started following the NBA in the back half of the 2010s, you likely know, We'd be remiss if we didn't mention Griffin's partnership with, Erving was almost born to be the Father of the Dunk. His dunking ability helped the NBA move on from MJ and into a world in which a new wave of fans often consume popcorn highlights instead of entire games. That dunk went down as the first to earn a perfect score in the NBA, though it wasn't enough to propel Dr. J past Larry Nance for the title. Without question the most famous play of Kemp's career is the vicious dunk and point over Lister during a 1992 playoff game between the Seattle SuperSonics and Golden State Warriors. In the inaugural competition in 1984, Nance went toe-to-toe with legend Erving, one of the top five greatest dunkers to ever grace the game. Generally, we favor well-rounded players over guys known solely as dunkers. In that vein, Wade earned extra points for the now-iconic photo of his celebrating one of teammate LeBron James' many above-the-rim finishes. And while Griffin made the All-NBA third team last year and remains a star when healthy, he was a phenomenon in his younger years. Even this in-traffic slam over Jonas Valanciunas, casual as it may seem, started way closer to the free-throw line than it seemed on first viewing. 360s with ease on fastbreaks. Shaq locked in when necessary, and when he did, there was no tougher cover. Additionally, much like O'Neal before him and Stephen Curry after, Howard used a singular skill set to define an era of basketball. But standing out in a crowd and shepherding in a new wave as a pioneer matters even if in today's game it wouldn't come close to resonating as much. It's there! After Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's overwhelming dominance at UCLA, the NCAA banned dunks for 10 years. He'd lull opponents into a (relatively) calm state by staying in his comfortable mid-range spots or slicing his way to the rim. For constantly balancing the joyful with the ferocious, Wade lands on this illustrious list. Fact of the matter is that he sometimes makes it look so effortless that we take for granted just how high he jumps and how hard he throws it down. Vince Carter is the single best dunk contest participant in the event’s history. Whether it's his Iverson-lite step over Anderson Varejao in the above video or his celebration after a. on Kendrick Perkins, Wade would often turn up the swagger after a dunk, but not in an arrogant way. The New York Knicks were at the mercy of the Bulls, and though that particular matchup carried significant animosity, Pippen and the Bulls also metaphorically dunked on every one of the other 28 teams. He's a sneaky candidate for the Mt. Even at 34, Dwight Howard is an elite athlete, so in case you've forgotten or didn't follow the NBA in his younger years, you can only imagine what those were like. He has won two dunk contests, but one is widely considered fraudulent. Baron Davis and Harold Miner are my two favourite "little" dunkers ever. For the record, that play was within the rules, but quibbling over it also obscures the point. He'd just quietly prepare for the next poster jam. Questions about his skill level aside, we can at least agree that LaVine is a master dunker. From here on out, there are legitimate cases to be made for each to be number one. Hawkins could probably be higher and honestly if you wanted to place him inside the top 10, I wouldn't begrudge you for it. Did MJ, Vinsanity, Nique or Dr. J take the top spot? Blake Griffin won the dunk competition in 2011 and is one of the best dunkers in the NBA today One of the few modern-day NBA stars who relishes a good ol’ dunk, Blake Griffin was one of the most dynamic players of his generation when he burst onto the scene. As we prepare for the latest iteration of the Slam Dunk Contest, let's take a look back in the annals at some of the best dunks we've ever seen during … Example Dunk: Playoff And-1 on Shawn Bradley. Here, we've put together the definitive list of the top 20 in-game dunkers of all time, which is sure to cause no debate at all.
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