Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Best Dunkers in the NBA

I love basketball. I have never been particularly athletic—I’ve always had to bust my butt to be any good at all. Because of this, I have always appreciated the beauty of a great dunk. Growing up I played dunk-ball a lot to try and pacify my feelings of physical inadequacy, but even then my ferocious dunks weren’t necessarily impressive (even though I thought I was pretty freaking awesome at the time). On the flipside, I have been dunked on several times, including once by Steve Young (yes, that Steve Young). I’ve got to admit it was pretty awesome. I was once dunked on so hard that I fell backward right into a wall about ten feet behind the tin. It was pretty embarrassing. I did actually dunk a ten foot hoop once–it was a follow-up dunk, but still, I put it down. I immediately called timeout so I could attempt to dunk again and failed miserably multiple times. Chalk the successful tip dunk up to adrenaline.
For some reason I felt it necessary to give that introduction. So, without further ado, here are the top five in-game dunkers in the NBA today with a bunch of awesome links (there are a bunch and some of the clips are long, but they're worth watching - some of the music is annoying, so you may want to hit mute). Keep in mind this is a list of current players only and does not include dunk contest dunks, but in-game situations only.

1. Vince Carter - Vince is the best dunker in NBA history. Period. His combination of acrobatics, power, and hangtime is stupid.Vince was amazing at UNC and took the NBA by storm - his highlights were on sportscenter every night. When playing for team USA the guy jumped over a 7-foot-2 guy for heaven’s sake! The thing that is so amazing about Vince is that he makes it look so easy—it just appears that he is messing around (and sometimes he is—he did quit on his team, after all). Even though many people don’t like him, he has to be the top dunker in the NBA. He’d be number one on my all-time list too.

2. Kobe Bryant - It’s pretty clear that I don’t always like Kobe, but the guy can throw it down like a champ.Kobe gets the nod at #2 because he dunks on everybody and has put down some of the most acrobatic dunks in NBA history. Sometimes it looks like Bryant decides what to do after he’s at the peak of his jump. One of the best dunks I have ever seen was when the Lakers were playing an exhibition game in Vegas a couple years ago and he absolutely bagged Ben Wallace. It was ridiculous. I jumped out of my seat like I had just won the lottery. Kobe has thrown down on some of the biggest guys in the league—his dunks on Yao (#2 on the clip) and Dwight Howard are among the best I've ever seen.

3. LeBron James - This guy is a freak. Has an NBA player ever been this athletically superior to everyone else?For a comparison as to how ridiculous he is, Karl Malone was 6' 9 and about 260 in his prime. Malone was generally considered to be in the best shape (or at least had the best physique) of anyone in the league. LeBron has similar measurables (6' 8, 245) at age 23. Adding LeBron’s athleticism to a frame like that is just unfair. Watch how he takes contact and still flushes with two hands. Ridiculous. I once heard Danny Ainge say that LeBron could show up to an NFL camp and make the team based solely on his athletic abilities. That's some high praise. LeBron's dunk on KG in the playoffs this year was amazing. LeBron dunks with power, but he takes the 3 spot here because I don't think he is as creative/flashy as Kobe.

4. Jason Richardson - If this list were for the best dunkers in a non-game situation Richardson might give Vince a run for the top spot.His off the glass under the leg dunk in the dunk contest was amazing. It actually gave me a rager (I need to credit PlayBoyd on the use of that term). Richardson makes it look pretty on breakaways but he's not as powerful as the guys ahead of him on this list.

5. Josh Smith - I don’t know that anyone in the NBA is more fun to watch than Smith.He can jump out of the gym, so every game you come away with a highlight dunk or a crazy rejection. He has made the Hawks fun to watch for the first time since Dominique left.

Just missed the cut (in no particular order): Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala, Ricky Davis, Tyrus Thomas, Amare Stoudemire, Travis Outlaw


Rob said...

If you are talking about who the best dunker is RIGHT NOW, I think VC should be moved down and Josh Smith should be moved up. His dunk over Primo Breschek (or whatever his name was) in 2007 was just awesome. I believe he is the most athletic player in the NBA. Any thoughts on anyone who is more athletic than him?

Taylor said...

I would put LeBron over Smith because of the strength factor (but it's dang close). Other than LBJ I'd put Smith at #2. Dwight Howard is pretty athletic for his size. I can definitely see why you would put Smith at 1.