A dunk is price simply two factors, however the most effective dunkers on the planet at all times discover methods to make it really feel like extra.
From signature in-game slams to unforgettable posterizations to you-had-to-be-there dunk contest moments, gamers from generations previous and current have left an indelible mark on the sport with their skill to complete on the rim.
However which participant holds the crown for every franchise? To reply the query, we requested our group of NBA insiders to vote on essentially the most iconic dunker for every franchise. Let the talk start.
Word: The standards used for choosing iconic dunkers for every workforce included a participant’s in-game dunks, efficiency within the slam dunk contest, innovation and signature moments.
Michael Jordan reclaimed his throne in Chicago, edging Dominique Wilkins in a showdown for the ages on the 1988 NBA slam dunk contest.
Wilkins’ double-handed windmill within the finals of the 1988 dunk contest he misplaced (controversially? dubiously? Hawks followers have their suspicions) to Michael Jordan is likely to be Nique’s most noteworthy dunk, however his most potent weaponry was discharged in stay video games. Few might unleash an electrical dunk in site visitors fairly like Wilkins, and his signature double pump whereas leaping off two toes among the many timber was a marvel of physique management. The true spectacle? When he received a working begin and gussied up the double pump with the reverse. — Kevin Arnovitz
Others receiving votes: Spud Webb 4.2%
Brown’s 1991 dunk contest victory over one other legendary dunker, Shawn Kemp, grew to become iconic for 2 causes: Brown “pumping up” his Reeboks and his no-look closing slam to cap his victory. Though Brown had a strong however unspectacular NBA profession enjoying for the Celtics, Raptors and Magic, his efficiency as a rookie in that 1991 dunk contest will guarantee he stays part of NBA lore. — Tim Bontemps
Others receiving votes: Gerald Inexperienced 29.2%
Vince Carter threw down extra unimaginable and head-shaking dunks. No Internet had extra energy dunks than Kenyon Martin. And Richard Jefferson collected his share of high-flying alley-oops from Jason Kidd. However regardless of being a Internet for under three ABA years, Erving was merely iconic. Dr. J’s model, aptitude and creativity had been groundbreaking and spawned a era of progressive dunkers. — Ohm Youngmisuk
Others receiving votes: Vince Carter 12.5%, Richard Jefferson 4.2%, Kenyon Martin 4.2%
Johnson was the person when it got here to throwing down ferocious dunks early in his profession. Earlier than his again harm zapped a few of his high-flying skills, Johnson was a strolling spotlight throughout his early days with the Hornets. At 6-foot-6 and 250 kilos, Johnson was a scary sight coming down the lane — even scarier if he was sporting the Grandmama getup. — Andrew Lopez
Others receiving votes: Baron Davis 16.7%, Jason Richardson 12.5%
His Airness was one among three gamers to obtain 100% of a workforce’s complete votes, and it is apparent why. Whether or not it was in a recreation or within the dunk contest, Jordan at all times rose to the event. MJ’s most memorable dunk of all time got here within the 1988 dunk contest when he took off from simply contained in the free throw line to earn an ideal rating inside a raucous Chicago Stadium. Simply as noteworthy are the instances he would rise as much as posterize large males like Dikembe Mutombo and Patrick Ewing. He’s the gold normal on this class due to his model, grace and energy within the air. — Nick Friedell
Others receiving votes: None
If there is a class in Cavaliers historical past LeBron does not personal, it isn’t available. He has most likely the 2 most spectacular dunks in Cavs historical past: the “no regard for human life” dunk on Kevin Garnett within the 2008 playoffs and the Jusuf Nurkic poster in Portland in 2018. LeBron’s fixed teasing of participation within the slam dunk contest made us marvel what he might do on All-Star Saturday night time, however his signature tomahawk dunks and a protracted listing of posters make up for it. — Brian Windhorst
Others receiving votes: Larry Nance 20.8%, Ricky Davis 8.3%
Finley had one of many funniest makes an attempt in a dunk contest when he represented the Mavericks in 1997. After throwing himself a lob off the ground, he did a (actually dangerous) cartwheel and missed the two-hand jam, cracking up the gang and himself. Finley, the runner-up within the contest as a Suns rookie the earlier yr, has a spotlight reel filled with ferocious dunks over large males, sometimes one-hand tomahawks after two-foot takeoffs in site visitors. — Tim MacMahon
Others receiving votes: Josh Howard 12.5%, Dennis Smith Jr. 12.5%
One among Thompson’s largest accomplishments is that he helped popularize the alley-oop whereas in faculty throughout an period when dunking was outlawed by the NCAA. However his largest dunk accomplishment is that he was the one to encourage Michael Jordan. Jordan idolized the previous NC State standout whereas rising up down the street in Wilmington. As soon as in Denver, the high-flying guard was a showman. He caught his fair proportion of our bodies over seven seasons in Denver, flying in for dunks over taller defenders and, in fact, throwing down alley-oops. — Ohm Youngmisuk
The 2 largest stars in Detroit within the 1990s had been Barry Sanders and Hill. Whereas Sanders crossed up defenders on the gridiron, “G-Cash” was crossing up elite defenders like Scottie Pippen to ship vicious two-handed jams in his signature Filas. Hill’s most disrespectful dunk got here in Miami when he crossed up Dan Majerle and drove to complete over Alonzo Mourning on the rim. Hill’s time in Motown hasn’t merited placing his jersey within the rafters but, however his standing as greatest dunker in franchise historical past stays unchallenged. — Eric Woodyard
Others receiving votes: Darvin Ham 34.8%, Jerry Stackhouse 17.4%
Baron Davis‘ dunk on Andre Kirilenko with the “We Consider” Golden State Warriors is the best in franchise historical past. However Richardson is the best dunker in franchise historical past. “J-Wealthy” received two NBA slam dunk championships as a member of the Warriors and is the one participant in franchise historical past to win. And in lean years for the workforce throughout his six-year tenure, Richardson was one of many few causes Warriors followers felt like they received their cash’s price. — Marc Spears
You won’t keep in mind the runner-up in Vince Carter’s legendary dunk contest efficiency, however Francis placed on a reasonably good present that night time, too. Stevie Franchise had a 40-plus-inch vertical and lots of aptitude, and his dunking résumé simply squeaks by T-Mac’s for greatest Rocket dunker ever. The three-time All-Star was a ruthless rim attacker off the dribble, however lots of his greatest in-game dunks got here on alley-oops, a rarity for a 6-Three guard. — Tim MacMahon
Others receiving votes: Tracy McGrady 40%, Clyde Drexler 12%
George’s performances within the dunk contest are criminally underrated — do not sleep on his reverse through-the-legs dunk in 2014 — however what cements his place because the Pacers’ all-time dunker is, merely, the Birdman poster. Recreation 2, 2013 Japanese Convention finals, below 10 seconds left within the third quarter in a two-point recreation. George beats LeBron off the dribble, and to say he demolished Chris Andersen is not even sufficient. He despatched Andersen into one other realm. — Royce Younger
Apologies to DeAndre Jordan, however there is no such thing as a “Lob Metropolis” with out Griffin. For 7½ seasons with LA, Griffin terrorized rims and defenders with energy and athleticism. Griffin was a nightly visitor on spotlight reveals along with his newest poster sufferer or an unbelievable alley-oop end. Not solely had been large males not protected within the paint however automobiles might get it too, as evidenced by his successful jam within the 2011 slam dunk contest. — Ohm Youngmisuk
On Feb. 8, 1997, Kobe Bryant received the NBA slam dunk contest as a rookie.
From the second Bryant snatched Ben Wallace‘s soul, taking off simply contained in the foul line to dunk over a future all-world defender in a 1997 preseason recreation, his dunking legacy as one among best started. Certain, his slam dunk contest win preceded it — he took residence the trophy with an Isaiah “J.R.” Rider-inspired between-the-legs dunk — however his greatest dunks got here when it mattered. The playoff posters on Steve Nash and Emeka Okafor. The baseline reverse jams eluding Latrell Sprewell on the Mecca and Kevin Garnett on the Goal Heart. His baptism of Dwight Howard. And the candy footwork, creativity and command he confirmed catching a full-court outlet go towards Denver and placing the ball behind his again as he corkscrewed his physique to launch a 180 slam may need been his greatest. He’s a dunking icon. — Dave McMenamin
Others receiving votes: Shaquille O’Neal 28%, Eddie Jones 4%
Ja Morant’s most memorable spotlight is likely to be a missed dunk after leaping over 6-10 Kevin Love, who joked on Twitter, “Ja virtually ended my skilled profession with this dunk.” Morant has already dunked on loads of bigs, most notably then-Suns heart Aron Baynes, the sufferer of a vicious, off-the-dribble, tomahawk dagger in a detailed recreation. Morant, in solely his second season, has a novel mixture of explosiveness and fearlessness, giving the Grizzlies’ skinny level guard a case for being the league’s most entertaining pound-for-pound dunker. — Tim MacMahon
Miner was voted the Warmth’s greatest dunker totally on the again of his successful two slam dunk competitions in dominant vogue. Miner, who was nicknamed “Child Jordan,” used his unbelievable leaping skill and energy to beat the 1993 defending champion Cedric Ceballos and 1995 defending champ Isaiah “J.R.” Rider. His signature dunk, a reverse double pump dunk, grew to become a go-to transfer for future dunkers within the competitors. Miner performed solely 4 seasons within the NBA, however his in-game dunks, together with a putback slam over Hakeem Olajuwon, make for a worthy spotlight reel. — Jorge Sedano
Others receiving votes: Dwyane Wade 29.2%, LeBron James 25%, Derrick Jones, Jr. 8.3%
Antetokounmpo is at his greatest going downhill, Euro-stepping his manner round defenders to ship a thunderous jam adopted by his patented imply mug as an exclamation. Dunking is not a lot an artwork kind as a reminder of how forceful and dominant the two-time MVP could be to opponents. Certain, the Bucks have had rim rockers over time resembling Desmond Mason and Ray Allen, however none like Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo personifies the workforce’s “Concern the Deer” slogan, one poster dunk at a time. — Eric Woodyard
Others receiving votes: Desmond Mason 36%, Ray Allen 8%
Zach LaVine breaks down his dunks vs. Aaron Gordon from the 2016 NBA slam dunk contest.
Zach LaVine has labored laborious to let or not it’s identified that he is greater than a dunker, because the two-time slam dunk champion earned his first All-Star choice in his seventh season. Nonetheless, LaVine’s run within the dunk contest is arguably the best in NBA historical past. His duel within the slam dunk contest versus Aaron Gordon in 2016 reminded lots of Jordan vs. Wilkins in 1988. When your title can stand tall subsequent to MJ, Vince Carter and Julius Erving in dunk contest lore, you’ve got performed one thing particular. — Eric Woodyard
Others receiving votes: Isaiah Rider 25%, Kevin Garnett 12.5%, Gerald Inexperienced 4.2%
When you ask this query once more on the finish of the season, the reply will possible change to Zion Williamson. However by a slim margin, B-Diddy holds the dunk crown within the Massive Straightforward. Whereas a few of his extra memorable slams got here in different uniforms, Davis placed on a present within the 2001 slam dunk competitors along with his homage to Harold Miner and a comedic show of dunk brilliance with a scarf masking his eyes on a missed slam. It is necessary to notice that Davis did all of this after tearing his ACL in 1998 whereas at UCLA. Do your self a favor and take a look at his dunks whereas in Westwood. — Andrew Lopez
Others receiving votes: Zion Williamson 28%, JR Smith 16%, Anthony Davis 16%
New York Knicks: Kenny Walker and Nate Robinson 37.5% (tie)
Kenny “Sky” Walker had the nickname, energy dunks, high-top fade, gold chains and was the successor to back-to-back winner Michael Jordan because the slam dunk champion in 1989. However Nate Robinson wins this tiebreaker for me on account of turning into the primary three-time dunk champion — and doing it whereas standing 5-9. Whereas they got here within the dunk contests, solely Robinson can lay declare to dunking over former dunk champs in 5-7 Spud Webb and 6-10 Dwight Howard. Plus, Robinson’s penchant for putback dunks in Madison Sq. Backyard made him persistently worthy of SportsCenter’s Prime 10. — Ohm Youngmisuk
Others receiving votes: Patrick Ewing 16.7%, John Starks 8.3%
It is a forgotten story, however Westbrook tried to be within the dunk contest. The followers simply turned him down. He was a part of a vote within the 2009 All-Star Recreation through which Rudy Fernandez received the nod. Since then, one of many best athletes in NBA historical past has sworn off the dunk contest as a result of it now not suits his ideology: “I solely dunk on folks,” he mentioned in 2015. A good level, as a result of when you sort in “Russell Westbrook dunk” on YouTube, you will discover a treasure trove of posters. Westbrook’s dunk strategy mimics his recreation at massive: They’re uncompromising, formidable, aggressive and at instances, head-scratching. Even his failed makes an attempt are magnificent. When you pay shut consideration, you may see the second of realization he will assault. And that instantaneous is likely one of the most exhilarating as a result of there is no telling what would possibly occur subsequent. — Royce Younger
Others receiving votes: Kevin Durant 4.5%
With Aaron Gordon returning to the dunk contest, have a look again at his prime highlights from the 2016 occasion.
Gordon’s dunk legacy as one of many all-time greats is secured with out his really successful a contest. His performances within the 2016 and 2020 slam dunk contests nonetheless spark debate about whether or not he deserved to win, as his need to dunk over and round workforce mascots made for unbelievable moments. Gordon’s athletic skill and ferocity on the rim have at all times been a staple of his dunk repertoire whether or not in video games or not, however his skill to fly via the air whereas taking the ball from Stuff spinning on a motorized hoverboard is likely to be Gordon’s greatest achievement. — Nick Friedell
Others receiving votes: Dwight Howard 34.8%, Shaquille O’Neal 17.4%, Tracy McGrady 4.3%
Julius Erving won’t have ever competed in an NBA slam dunk contest, however he did not must — his victory within the first-ever dunk contest, at halftime of the ABA All-Star Recreation in 1976 — set the usual for all who adopted. Erving’s dunk from the free throw line was later imitated by Michael Jordan, and gamers for generations to come back — together with LeBron James, who wore Dr. J’s No. 6 in Miami — credit score his model on the court docket, together with his unbelievable mixture of athleticism and charm hovering via the air, as an inspiration for a way they tried to play the sport.
Of notice, Erving is the one participant to symbolize two franchises on this listing. — Tim Bontemps
Others receiving votes: Darryl Dawkins 37.5%-
Phoenix Suns: Amar’e Stoudemire 54.2%
Throughout his time with Phoenix, Stoudemire would attempt to dunk on anyone and something that was in his path. Simply ask Anthony Tolliver. Or Michael Olowokandi. Or some other variety of former NBA gamers who felt S.T.A.T.’s wrath throughout his eight years with the Suns. Over that point, Stoudemire threw down 1,177 dunks — solely Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard had extra over that stretch. Plus, his soccer-style collaboration with Steve Nash through the slam dunk contest in 2005 resulted in a memorable runner-up end. — Andrew Lopez
When your nickname comes out of your leaping skill, it most likely means you’ve got received a very good dunking résumé. And “The Glide” was a completely acceptable moniker, as a result of Drexler’s dunks had a sure gracefulness to them. He soared, he levitated, he hovered. He … glided. He was each an in-game spotlight reel and a contest dunker, showcasing creativity to associate with his practicality. The best way he would palm the ball excessive as he galloped into two large steps simply added to the artfulness of his dunks. — Royce Younger
Others receiving votes: Jerome Kersey 12.5%, Brandon Roy 4.3%
Wallace made two appearances within the contest, one as a member of the Kings in 2002. He at all times had the hops to get folks’s consideration, but it surely was the athleticism and talent to contort his physique in numerous instructions that created some spectacular throwdowns via the years. Wallace’s present was with the ability to strike at any second via the air, like his fast-break poster and twirl on Boštjan Nachbar. — Nick Friedell
Others receiving votes: Chris Webber 29.2%, Kenny Smith 25%
The finger roll wasn’t the one factor George Gervin might do. The “Iceman” competed within the ABA’s groundbreaking 1976 dunk contest — a windmill after taking off from the dotted line being the spotlight of his efficiency. Gervin, usually with a gold chain dangling on his neck, normally pissed off shot-blockers by floating that finger roll over them, however the lanky legend took off and punched it in loads of instances, too. — Tim MacMahon
Others receiving votes: Manu Ginobili 26.1%, David Robinson 21.7%, Johnny Dawkins 4.3%
Seattle SuperSonics: Shawn Kemp 100%
Regardless of by no means successful a dunk contest — he completed second to Dee Brown in 1991 — Kemp was the clear choose right here. Kemp’s dunks stay symbolic of the Sonics’ profitable 1990s run and have gained new life on YouTube. Whether or not he was throwing down alley-oop lobs from Gary Payton or ending over Alton Lister, Kemp’s dunks had been singular. Who else might dunk on a participant (Chris Gatling) after which get dapped up by him? — Kevin Pelton
Others receiving votes: None
It’s laborious to argue towards Vince Carter being the best dunker in NBA historical past, not simply Raptors historical past. In 2000, “Vinsanity” had the dunk contest’s most dominant and exquisite efficiency ever, with elbow-in-the-rim dunks and two-handed finishes from the free throw line standing out. Carter additionally made a reputation for himself by frequently posterizing large males, most notably along with his dunk over France’s 7-2 heart, Frederic Weis, within the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. — Marc Spears
Others receiving votes: None
Utah Jazz: Darrell Griffith 45.8%
Nicknames are earned, not given. And there is not too many cooler than Darrell Griffith’s “Dr. Dunkenstein.” Earlier than present Utah star Donovan Mitchell made the transfer from Louisville to Salt Lake Metropolis, there was one other excessive flier who already laid that basis in Griffith. Griffith’s No. 35 is at present hanging within the rafters of Vivint Area after he handled followers to numerous dunk reveals. At 6-4, Griffith might fly with the most effective of them, each within the dunk contest and through in-game motion. That is the explanation the long-lasting Nike poster of him dressed as a physician — holding two half basketballs with smoke popping out of them — is endlessly a traditional. — Eric Woodyard
Others receiving votes: Donovan Mitchell 33.3%, Karl Malone 16.7%, Jeremy Evans 4.2%
JaVale McGee not solely might dunk two balls in two totally different hoops, however he additionally slammed three balls consecutively on one try in a memorable slam dunk contest. Maybe no Wizard had extra punishing energy dunks on opposing large males in video games than Chris Webber. However the best Wizards dunker ever (sorry, Michael Jordan was principally enjoying under the rim throughout his Wizards days) is John Wall. Loaded with velocity and athleticism, Wall usually regarded like he was shot out of a cannon earlier than he would dunk in video games. He might dunk right-handed or left-handed, and the 2014 slam dunk champ might even dribble behind his again on the dash earlier than throwing down a dirty dunk. — Ohm Youngmisuk
Others receiving votes: JaVale McGee 20.8%, Chris Webber 16.7%