In case you missed it, the NBA All-Star Game will be here before you know it. The uniforms have been unveiled. The starting lineups have been announced. And we’re sure that Houston is getting preparations ready for All-Star Weekend when it drops on February 15-17.
Unlike other sports such as the NFL, the NBA All-Star game will actually be worth watching. But we’re looking forward more to the slam dunk contest. It’s always been our favorite part of All-Star weekend.
While there have been great dunkers throughout the years, whether known as so during their careers or just putting on a show during the dunk contest, there are only so many that could be classified as a “king.” With that in mind, here are the 10 greatest dunkers of all time.
10. LeBron James
While King James hasn’t been in any dunk contests, he’s one of the most impressive and forceful dunkers in the game. His strength and speed are unparalleled, and he has previously led the league in dunks during a season. Love him or hate him, LeBron belongs on this list.
9. Darryl Dawkins
Dawkins was one of the most unique characters to ever play on the court. Besides claiming that he was from another planet called “Lovetron,” he was known for his ferocious dunks, which he gave names to like the Go-Rilla, the In-Your-Face Disgrace, the Yo-Mama, and the Spine-Chiller Supreme. In 1979 alone, Chocolate Thunder smashed two backboards on dunk shots within a month.
8. David Thompson
If you’re nicknamed “Skywalker” because of your alleged 48-inch vertical leap, you deserve to be on this list. Because he also popularized the alley-oop, it’s not surprising that Thompson is one of the most influential dunkers ever.
7. Kobe Bryant
We know that Kobe is one of the greatest players of all time in the NBA, but he’s also one of the greatest dunkers. The Black Mamba won the 1997 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, but what amazes many are his explosive dunks, thanks to his speed and effortless ability.
6. Jason Richardson
Besides Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson is the only back-to-back slam dunk winner, which were in 2002 and 2003. The 6-foot-6 guard sealed the 2003 contest with a reverse in-between-the-legs dunk.
5. Shawn Kemp
While the Reign Man never participated in any dunk contests, the 6 foot 7 Kemp was one of the best big-men dunkers. For his size, he was surprisingly agile, and his dunks were nothing less than destructive. He was a definite force of nature.
4. Dominique Wilkins
The Human Highlight Film won two dunk titles, one against Michael Jordan in 1985, and was one of the most prolific and imaginative dunkers ever. However, one of his most memorable moments was his rematch against MJ in 1988 when his trademark windmill dunk and an off-the-glass, one-handed tomahawk not only amazed the Chicago crowd, he almost beat MJ again.
3. Michael Jordan
There’s no question that His Airness is one of the greatest dunkers of all-time, some would even argue the greatest. Throughout his Hall of Fame career MJ’s intensity, creativity, and proficiency were unmatched. He inspired and influenced a countless amount of future players around the world. His perfect score of 50 seven times during his three dunk contest appearances remains unchallenged to this day.
2. Vince Carter
Vince Carter wasn’t just one of the most creative dunkers, he was probably the greatest in-your-face-dunker, as was evident with his “elbow dunk,” which helped him win the dunk contest in 2000. Of course, we need no further proof than when VC dunked over French 7-footer Frédéric Weis during the Sydney Olympics. It was so devastatingly awesome that it became known as le dunk de la mort (“the dunk of death”) worldwide.
1. Julius Erving
Dr. J’s name is synonymous with dunking. While players were dunking before, Doc mainstreamed the shot. He innovated and revolutionized the slam dunk with an aerial finesse that could be considered art. And, Doc was the first one to jump off the free throw line to make a dunk shot during the 1976 ABA dunk contest. There shouldn’t be much doubt that Julius Erving is the greatest dunker of all-time.