Our specialists choose each NBA franchise’s most iconic dunker

NBA

A dunk is value simply two factors, however the very best dunkers on this planet all the time 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? With the slam dunk contest set for halftime of Sunday’s All-Star Recreation this season, we requested our group of NBA insiders to vote on essentially the most iconic dunker for every franchise. Let the controversy start.

Word: The standards used for choosing iconic dunkers for every group included a participant’s in-game dunks, efficiency within the slam dunk contest, innovation and signature moments.

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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 dwell video games. Few might unleash an electrical dunk in visitors fairly like Wilkins, and his signature double pump whereas leaping off two ft among the many timber was a marvel of physique management. The true spectacle? When he acquired 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 stable 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 unattainable and head-shaking dunks. No Web 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 Web for under three ABA years, Erving was merely iconic. Dr. J’s type, 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 talents, 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 in all three gamers to obtain 100% of a group’s whole votes, and it is apparent why. Whether or not it was in a sport or within the dunk contest, Jordan all the time 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 occasions he would rise as much as posterize huge males like Dikembe Mutombo and Patrick Ewing. He’s the gold commonplace on this class due to his type, grace and energy within the air. — Nick Friedell

Others receiving votes: None

If there is a class in Cavaliers historical past LeBron would not personal, it is not available. He has in all probability 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 record 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 group and himself. Finley, the runner-up within the contest as a Suns rookie the earlier yr, has a spotlight reel stuffed with ferocious dunks over huge males, sometimes one-hand tomahawks after two-foot takeoffs in visitors. — Tim MacMahon

Others receiving votes: Josh Howard 12.5%, Dennis Smith Jr. 12.5%


Considered one of 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 highway in Wilmington. As soon as in Denver, the high-flying guard was a showman. He caught his justifiable share of our bodies over seven seasons in Denver, flying in for dunks over taller defenders and, in fact, throwing down alley-oops. — Ohm Youngmisuk

Others receiving votes: JR Smith 16.7%, Antonio McDyess 8.3%, Robert Pack 4.2%

The 2 largest stars in Detroit within the Nineteen Nineties 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 finest 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 Imagine” Golden State Warriors is the best in franchise historical past. However Richardson is the best dunker in franchise historical past. “J-Wealthy” gained 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 group throughout his six-year tenure, Richardson was one of many few causes Warriors followers felt like they acquired their cash’s value. — Marc Spears

Others receiving votes: Baron Davis 12.5%, Latrell Sprewell 4.2%, Chris Webber 4.2%

You may not bear 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 finest Rocket dunker ever. The three-time All-Star was a ruthless rim attacker off the dribble, however lots of his finest in-game dunks got here on alley-oops, a rarity for a 6-3 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 Jap Convention finals, beneath 10 seconds left within the third quarter in a two-point sport. 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

Others receiving votes: Victor Oladipo 37.5%, Fred Jones 12.5%, Glenn Robinson III 4.2%

Apologies to DeAndre Jordan, however there isn’t 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 together with his newest poster sufferer or an unbelievable alley-oop end. Not solely had been huge males not secure within the paint however vehicles might get it too, as evidenced by his successful jam within the 2011 slam dunk contest. — Ohm Youngmisuk

Others receiving votes: Brent Barry 4%, DeAndre Jordan 4%, Darius Miles 4%

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 sport, his dunking legacy as one in all biggest started. Positive, his slam dunk contest win preceded it — he took dwelling the trophy with an Isaiah “J.R.” Rider-inspired between-the-legs dunk — however his finest 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 move in opposition to Denver and placing the ball behind his again as he corkscrewed his physique to launch a 180 slam may need been his finest. 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 nearly 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 an in depth sport. Morant, in solely his second season, has a singular 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

Others receiving votes: Rudy Gay 25%, Stromile Swift 25%

Miner was voted the Warmth’s finest dunker totally on the again of his successful two slam dunk competitions in dominant style. 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 finest going downhill, Eurostepping his approach round defenders to ship a thunderous jam adopted by his patented imply mug as an exclamation. Dunking is not a lot an artwork type as a reminder of how forceful and dominant the two-time MVP could be to opponents. Positive, the Bucks have had rim rockers over time akin to Desmond Mason and Ray Allen, however none like Antetokounmpo. He personifies the group’s “Worry the Deer” slogan, one poster dunk at a time. — Eric Woodyard

Others receiving votes: Desmond Mason 36%, Ray Allen 8%

LaVine has labored exhausting 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 a lot of Jordan vs. Wilkins in 1988. When your identify can stand tall subsequent to these of 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%


In case you ask this query once more on the finish of the season, the reply will probably change to Zion Williamson. However by a slim margin, B-Diddy holds the dunk crown within the Massive Straightforward to this point. Though a few of his extra memorable slams got here in different uniforms, Davis placed on a present within the 2001 slam dunk competitors together 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 vital to notice that Davis did all of this after tearing his ACL in 1998 whereas at UCLA. Do your self a favor and have 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)

“Sky” Walker had the nickname, energy dunks, high-top fade and gold chains and was the successor to back-to-back winner Michael Jordan because the slam dunk champion in 1989. However Robinson wins this tiebreaker for me attributable to turning into the primary three-time dunk champion — and doing it whereas standing 5-9. Though 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 during which Rudy Fernandez acquired the nod. Since then, one of many biggest athletes in NBA historical past has sworn off the dunk contest as a result of it now not matches 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 may discover a treasure trove of posters. Westbrook’s dunk method mimics his sport at massive: They’re uncompromising, bold, aggressive and, at occasions, head-scratching. Even his failed makes an attempt are magnificent. In case you pay shut consideration, you may see the second of realization he will assault. And that immediate is without doubt 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%

Gordon’s dunk legacy as one of many all-time greats is secured with out his truly 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 group mascots made for unbelievable moments. Gordon’s athletic skill and ferocity on the rim have all the time been a staple of his dunk repertoire whether or not in video games or not, however his skill to fly by way of the air whereas taking the ball from Stuff spinning on a motorized hoverboard is likely to be Gordon’s finest achievement. — Nick Friedell

Others receiving votes: Dwight Howard 34.8%, Shaquille O’Neal 17.4%, Tracy McGrady 4.3%

Erving’s 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 type on the courtroom, together with his unbelievable mixture of athleticism and beauty hovering by way of the air, as an inspiration for the way they tried to play the sport.

Of observe, Erving is the one participant to characterize two franchises on this record. — 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 in the course of the slam dunk contest in 2005 resulted in a memorable runner-up end. — Andrew Lopez

Others receiving votes: Larry Nance 20.8%, Tom Chambers 16.7%, Kevin Johnson 8.3%

When your nickname comes out of your leaping skill, it in all probability means you’ve got acquired dunking résumé. And “The Glide” was a completely applicable 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 go together with his practicality. The way in which he would palm the ball excessive as he galloped into two huge 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 all the time had the hops to get folks’s consideration, however it was the athleticism and skill to contort his physique in numerous instructions that created some spectacular throwdowns by way of the years. Wallace’s present was with the ability to strike at any second by way of 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 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, often annoyed shot-blockers by floating that finger roll over them, however the lanky legend took off and punched it in loads of occasions, 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 Nineteen Nineties 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 exhausting to argue in opposition to 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 delightful 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 recurrently posterizing huge males, most notably together with his dunk over France’s 7-2 heart, Frederic Weis, within the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. — Marc Spears

Others receiving votes: None

Extra: The story of Vince Carter and the 2000 slam dunk contest


Utah Jazz: Darrell Griffith 45.8%

Nicknames are earned, not given. And there aren’t too many cooler than 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 flyer who already had laid that basis in Griffith. Griffith’s No. 35 is hanging within the rafters of Vivint Area after he handled followers to numerous dunk reveals. At 6-4, Griffith might fly with the very best of them, within the dunk contest and through in-game motion. That is the rationale the enduring Nike poster of him dressed as a physician — holding two half basketballs with smoke popping out of them — is without end a basic. — 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 numerous hoops but additionally slammed three balls consecutively on one try in a memorable slam dunk contest. Maybe no Wizard had extra punishing energy dunks on opposing huge males in video games than Chris Webber. However the biggest Wizards dunker ever (sorry, Michael Jordan was principally enjoying under the rim throughout his Wizards days) is Wall. Loaded with velocity and athleticism, Wall usually regarded as if he had been 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%

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