NBA basketball is great for many reasons, but at the top of the list is dunking. Throughout all major sports, there’s nothing out there quite like dunking and a player just getting absolutely posterized. For some people, it’s the only reason to watch the game.
But what’s more impressive than a good, old-fashioned dunk? Well, obviously a slam in the NBA Playoffs that is so powerful it reverberates throughout the universe reminding the aliens from Space Jam never to f— with us again. There are always new rivalries brewing each year in the post-season, and one of the best ways to shut your opponent up is by throwing it down on them.
From new names on the scene to Michael Jordan, there have been some utterly ridiculous dunks in NBA Playoff history. With that, let’s take a look at some of the very best of all time in the playoffs.
10. Kevin Johnson
Teams: Phoenix Suns vs. Houston Rockets
Game: 1994 Western Conference Semifinals, Game 4
Before this game, you may not have heard too much about Kevin Johnson, but you knew his name afterward. Johnson put his name on the NBA Playoff map after this unreal dunk on the man himself, Hakeem Olajuwon. He absolutely attacked the rim, sending the stadium and announcers into a frenzy. For that, he kicks off this list.
9. Kobe Bryant
Teams: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns
Game: 2006 Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 2
Obviously, you knew this one was coming. There couldn’t be a top ten most vicious dunks without Kobe Bryant. Steve Nash ended up really being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Poor Nash. Bryant took advantage of the young Phoenix point guard and showed him who’s boss with this ferocious move.
8. Julius Erving
Teams: New Jersey Nets vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Game: 1977 NBA Finals, Game 6
You could easily have an entire post of dunk after dunk from Dr. J, so clearly he had to make the cut. Erving’s ruthless jam on Bill Walton is definitely one of his most iconic. He always made it look so easy, and the great Walton looked completely lost after this one.
7. Michael Jordan
Teams: Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks
Game: 1997 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game 5
This dunk was a long time coming for Michael Jordan. We all know Mutombo for his unbelievable blocking capabilities and that notorious finger wave. You’ve probably seen his commercial, as well. Leading up to this series, Mutombo said he could block MJ. Bad idea. Not only did Jordan dunk on him, he made him look flat out silly. Oh, and he finished if off with a finger wave of his own. Cold blooded.
6. Tracy McGrady
Teams: Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks
Game: 2005 Western conference Quarterfinals, Game 2
I remember watching this game live and never looking at T-Mac the same. McGrady’s dunk here was simply perfection. He threw it down with such fury that you needed to watch it on an endless loop just to try and figure out the physics of the drunk. Also, Shawn Bradley was a massive player, peep him next to Yao Ming, and McGrady made him look like a child.
5. LeBron James
Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics
Game: 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 4
The call for this dunk was priceless. LeBron James has been known to throw down some pretty vicious dunks, but this might be the one he’s remembered for. Throwing it down on Kevin Garnett’s head doesn’t hurt its shot at immortality, but Kevin Harlan’s announcing, “with no regard for human life,” really put it over the edge. Harlan ain’t lying.
4. Baron Davis
Teams: Golden State Warriors vs. Utah Jazz
Game: 2007 Western Conference Semifinals, Game 3
Some of you might not recognize those uniforms, but that would be Baron Davis out there playing for the Warriors. Sorry band-wagoners, just had to. This posterization from Davis is one I’ll never forget. This was the year the Warriors somehow took down the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks before taking on the Jazz. If that wasn’t memorable enough, this dunk surely was.
3. Shaquille O’Neal
Teams: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Game: 2000 Western Conference Finals, Game 7
Oh, the good old days of Kobe and Shaq. This one makes it so high on the list for the significance. Game 7, Western Conference Finals, and down to the last minute. The pass from Kobe to O’Neal was perfect and Shaq threw it down like there was no tomorrow. Easily one of the most memorable moments in “recent” Western Conference Finals history.
2. John Starks
Teams: New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls
Game: 1993 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 2
You have to love those old Bulls-Knicks playoff series. John Starks performed the unthinkable, throwing it down on Michael Jordan. MJ didn’t really get dunked on, but he was there, so close enough. Who knew Starks could even jump that high. With the game on the line, this was pretty damn impressive, worthy of the number two spot here.
1. Michael Jordan
Teams: Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks
Game: 1991 Eastern Conference First Round, Game 1
Despite kinda-sorta-not-really being dunked on by John Starks, Jordan still got his revenge. Not only was this an insane dunk, but it was also on Patrick Ewing. Just when you think you’d seen it all from MJ, he did this. Under that pressure, covered by about three guys, Jordan found a way to yam it home. With that, the greatest of all time gets the top spot on the list.