The list of all-time best dunkers is as hotly debated as the MVP contention or March Brackets – everyone has an opinion and no one is really “wrong”. For starters, what makes a good dunker? Is it in game success, or acrobatic finesse? Is it the gracefulness of suspended air-time or the sheer physicality of a devastating power move?
Of course, here at Dunk Elite we believe, scratch that, we KNOW our guys are the best in the world at what they do. Lipek shook things up with his innovation and absolute precision body control, Smoove with his effortless creativity and enthusiasm and Kristaps with freakish athleticism, insane bounce and confidence that makes you pay attention to every move he makes. Porter’s the small man’s hero, defying the laws of gravity, Justin’s ridiculously graceful and athletic and Jordan is an aerial acrobat with amazing coordination, speed and power. Dunk Elite is an absolute powerhouse above the rim.
With Dunk Elite out of the way, we can make room for some other amazing dunkers who paved the way to our success. These athletes have been cited countless times for their ability to perform moves that, at the time, almost seemed impossible. Moves so ridiculous they require an actual physical reaction from dunk fans and ballers alike – the following dunkers will get you out of your seat.
- Julius Erving. The original dunker, Dr. J brought the exciting move to the forefront of the game. Erving turned dunking into a profitable spectator sport, and everyone who has ever made a dollar off of a dunk has him to thank. The original high-flyer, Dr. J should be studied by every athlete hoping to make a name for themselves in the sport.
- Dominique Wilkins. Wilkins was as creative at the rim with a defender as he was unopposed. His ability to move the ball through a congested lane makes him a definite contended for best ever. The underrated “human highlight reel”, Wilkins was a joy to watch on the court.
- Kobe Bryant. Still the youngest to ever win the NBA dunk contest (although he was ALMOST dethroned this year), Kobe’s skills are awe-inspiring. Inspiring a generation of dunkers since the early 90’s, Kobe is still a phenomenal dunker, which we sometimes forget given his tenure in the league.
- Michael Jordan. While Jordan ends up on many “best” lists around the basketball community, his effortless and elegant dunking style is visible daily in the globally recognized Jumpman logo of his namesake brand. With possibly the most notorious dunk of all time, his 1988 Dunk Comp effort, Jordan absolutely flipped the script. Going one-on-five in the professional league – the man is absolutely untouchable. He is second on this list ONLY because he was such a well rounded athlete – so impressive it’s almost unfair to pin him against other players.
- Vince Carter. VINsanity exploded for a reason in Carter’s early years in Toronto – the man could ball. Limiting somewhat his true potential due to lackluster work ethic, when Carter was on the court throwing down everyone else could only watch. The excitement he brought to the game created momentum in Toronto that is still palpable today and, needless to say, he inspired millions around the world, including us at Dunk Elite, with his 2000 execution-like performance in the NBA Dunk Contest.
LeBron James. James’ refusal to go head-to-head in the NBA All Star Dunk Contest with talented competitors is what keeps him off my list. His in game performance is undoubtedly impressive; making things look so effortless it’s almost difficult to justify the hype.
Shaquille O’Neal. Freak athlete, the original big-man. He wasn’t the first, and he won’t be the last, but Shaquille O’Neal brought such enthusiasm and bravado to the game he earned a spot in my heart as the most entertaining big man dunker to throw down in the league.
Blake Griffin. With youth still on his side, Blake Griffin is one to watch as his career develops. Already impressively athletic, his high-flying moves keep me coming back for more.
Robyn Smith, HBK