Dunking a basketball is one of the most amazing feelings in the world if you are athletically capable or tall enough to do so. It is also one of the most fascinating things to watch.
The slam dunk is the most efficient shot in the game and can bring a crowd to its feet and bring shame to a defender. The 80’s 90’s and early 2000’s saw some of the best dunkers ever grace the court. Due to an increase in athleticism in recent years, we have been able to see some of the best dunks ever.
Whether it is a poster dunk or a flashy alley-oop, we are lucky we have access to so much technology so we will never miss a spectacular dunk. Dunking is such a fan favorite they made a competition just for it. With the slam dunk contest almost upon us here is a list of the top 10 dunkers of all-time.
10. Darryl Dawkins
The late great Darryl Dawkins also was known as “Chocolate Thunder” during his prime days with the Philadelphia 76ers. Dawkins was known for the many backboards he broke which later led to a rule that would fine and suspend any player who broke a backboard. Another great quality Dawkins was known for was his awesome nicknames he would give his dunks like; “Rim Wrecker,” “In Your Face Disgrace,” and the “Greyhound Special” just to name a few. The NBA world lost Dawkins due to a heart attack in the summer of 2015.
9 Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is one of the most athletic point guards to ever grace a basketball court. He plays with high intensity and has such incredible leaping ability. Luckily for the NBA, they fixed the issue of backboards shattering into pieces because Westbrook dunks the ball with so much force he would have been fined a few times. You can just see the look in his eyes when he has an open lane to the basket he is looking to destroy his opponent and the rim.
8. Shawn Kemp
Just like the first two guys on this list, Shawn Kemp dunked the ball with authority. But he also had a little bit of flare, and cockiness to his dunks. Kemp had the amazing ability to shift his body to avoid defenders and in some cases take contact in mid-air and still finish with an outrageous dunk. Kemp was not afraid to let his opponent know what he just did to them. In his most famous dunk, Kemp can be seen bent down pointing and laughing directly at his opponents face.
7. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant may be known for his ability to come through for his team whenever they needed him too. But young Kobe was a dunking machine. He had such outstanding athletic ability. The former slam dunk champion had no problem showing off his hops with a flashy reverse dunk or coming down the lane and dunking on your teams seven-foot center. Whether you liked him or not there was no denying Kobe’s excellent dunking ability.
6. Dominique Wilkins
Dominique Wilkins was one of the best scorers the NBA has ever seen. During his tenure with the Atlanta Hawks, he was their go-to guy which is why he has a statue in his honor outside their arena. But along with his scoring ability came his high flying antics which earned him the nickname the “human highlight reel.” Wilkins was a two-time NBA Slam Dunk Champion and had no fear running through the lane and dunking on any big man.
5. Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin was a fantastic athlete in his college days with the University of Oklahoma, on one occasion Griffin went up for a dunk from the sideline and hit his head on the bottom of the backboard. After sitting out his rookie season with an injury, Griffin came out looking to destroy every rim in the NBA. His high flying dunks led to him participating in the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, where he would end the night dunking over a car. Grifin was not just about posterizing someone, but his ability to hang in the air is uncanny. He hangs in the air so long sometimes it gives him a chance to think of what kind of dunk he wants to throw down.
4. LeBron James
As much as people might not like it LeBron is in the conversation for greatest player of all-time, he may not have surpassed Michael Jordan yet, but he is close. Unlike many on this list, James has not participated in a dunk contest, but his pure physical abilities make him a must on this list. He is built like a linebacker with insane leaping ability. James will dunk on you but can also put on a great show while on a fast break. During many of his pre-game warm-ups, James will perform a dunk that would have won many slam dunk contest which is why people wonder why he never participated.
3. Michael Jordan
As I mentioned before Michael Jordan is considered by many to be the greatest player ever. MJ was not just a lethal scorer but also an outstanding dunker. There is a reason they call his sneakers Air Jordans. In his early years, MJ was a flashy dunker who would get the crowd out of their seats with his wild fastbreak dunks. Jordan is a two-time slam dunk champion beating out Dominique Wilkins in 1988. As his career went on Jordan can be seen dunking on some of the premier shot blockers in the NBA. Once Air Jordan went up, his tongue came out, and he rocked the rim.
2. Julius Erving
Julius Erving nicknamed “Dr. J” could be considered the originator of the flashy dunk. Winning the first ever dunk contest in 1976 when he was with New York Nets of the ABA. Erving was smooth with his dunks as he almost glided through the air as he attacked the rim. When Dr. J joined the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA, he and his teammate Darryl Dawkins would terrorize teams with their freakish athleticism. His most infamous dunk may have come during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, where Dr.J rocked the baby. Erving cradled the ball into his wrist and forearm and rocked it back and forth before he threw it down.
1. Vince Carter
How can a man whose nickname “half man half amazing” not be on this list. Vince Carter is the greatest dunker to ever play the game of basketball. Vinsanity was literally able to fly back in his Toronto Raptor days. When Carter and his cousin Tracy McGrady were on the same team in Toronto, they were on a mission to dunk on everyone. Carter got the ball on the fastbreak, and everyone stood up, every camera was ready because he was going to put on the show. The man won a slam dunk contest by jumping so high he was able to put half his arm through the rim and hang on the rim by his forearm. He would float in the air and spent so much time up there that he could choose many different types of dunks he wanted to do. And let’s not forget when he jumped over 7’2″ Frederic Weis in the 2000 Summer Olympics for an unbelievable dunk.