While there are many aspects of the game of basketball that make it unique, the slam dunk is quite possibly the cream of the crop.
People may say dunking makes basketball, however the game of basketball has been around long before dunking was even legal or attempted.
The slam dunk started to emerge with players who were tall enough to actually jam the ball through a ten foot cylinder. Prior to this spectacular feat, basketball was limited to a more controlled and monotonous game.
The ABA was one of the few organizations that really banked on the feature of the game. The league introduced the alley-oop and the first every Slam Dunk Contest in 1976.
The slam dunk was both significant due to the actual dunk contest (Dr. J won by the way) and its influence on the rest of the game. The NCAA would legalize the slam dunk that very year and the NBA would adopt the Dunk Contest into their All-Star weekend after the ABA merged.
Fun Fact: Dunking was banned in college ball between 1967-1976. It was thought that the ban was aimed at Lou Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) to keep him from completely dominating the game.
In interviews, John Wooden discounted this saying that the NCAA outlawed the dunk due to safety concerns from players hanging on rims and breaking backboards.
Taking every single dunk in the NBA’s history and even remotely attempting to narrow it down to a Top Ten list would be impossible, if not highly impossible. It seems like everyday one can witness a dunk of value on SportsCenter. However, with that being said, we’ll attempt to accomplish the impossible.
The Best Dunks in the NBA? Where do you begin? It’s such a broad topic. Are we talking about the best dunks in an NBA game? The best dunks in an NBA dunk contest?
Oh where, oh where do we begin…?
Best Dunks in NBA Game
The scene…Ricky Davis versus Dallas in 2003. Steve Nash may be one of the greatest point guards in the history of the game, but he is not designed to be under the hoop when Davis comes crashing through on a fast break.
The result is what some may call “one of the greatest NBA dunks in the history of the game” and another “the most overrated dunk of all-time.” Google it and we’ll let you be the judge.
This brings us to Darryl Dawkins, easily one of the most ferocious dunkers of all-time. Dawkins threw it down like he was mad at the entire world. 1979 versus the San Antonio Spurs. DD brings it down the baseline and proceeds to rip the entire glass off of the backboard, one shattered piece after another.
It’s very rare to find someone who can shatter the backboard much less completely obliterate it. Dawkins manslaughter of the backboard is easily one of the best dunks in NBA history.
Not to be outdone by Shaquille O’Neal in 1993 versus New Jersey. Shaq made the entire backboard appear as if it was constructed of cardboard paper and Elmer’s glue.
Again, driving baseline, Shaq ripped down the entire hoop. And by the hoop, I mean the entire hoop. Like the rim, backboard, shot clock display, and support structure.
Tom Chambers, 1989 versus the New York Knicks. Here’s a shout out to all the white players. Who said white men can’t jump? Chambers drove hard on the baseline and proceeded to use John Starks as a one-man ladder all the way to destination: hoop.
Dominique Wilkins, the greatest “in-game” dunker of all time. Yes, you heard that right. Better than Jordan and better than Dr. J. Wilkins made highlight reel after highlight reel dunk in a game that most players wouldn’t even dream about doing in a dunk contest.
We could name several different worthy slam dunks here, so we just suggest you Google, “highlight reel: Dominique Wilkins.”
And while we’re on the point, let’s skip to Shawn Kemp. Another fantastic “in-game” dunker who once famously pointed at Harold Minor lying on his back seconds after he became a poster. Search it. Trust us.
Jordan may have been the “AIRness” of Chicago, but Scottie Pippen made one heck of a Prince. Pippen played for years in MJ’s shadow; however his dunk over Patrick Ewing in a pivotal moment of a crucial game is still regarded as one of the better “in-game” dunks.
Kevin Johnson. Long cited as one of the most underrated players in the NBA, Johnson was a stud in Phoenix and one terrific leaper for a point guard. How good was he? Johnson dunked on both Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon. Yes, two terrific defensive centers and future Hall of Fame inductees.
Michael Jordan. Ah, the memories. Jordan had sensational dunk after sensational dunk. It just never stopped. Plus he did it while winning and winning a lot. We could get into every single detail, but we do not want you to be here all night.