The Top 10 Best NBA Dunkers of All Time

Dunking, a spectacle of unparalleled energy and excitement, possesses the remarkable ability to tell a narrative, invigorate spirits, and ignite the very soul of basketball enthusiasts. Executing a powerful slam dunk requires an intricate blend of skill and athleticism, making it one of the most enthralling facets of the sport.

As the sun rises each day, millions of fervent basketball aficionados flock to YouTube, eagerly immersing themselves in the exhilarating highlights of slam dunks. This ritualistic journey has seamlessly woven itself into the fabric of NBA enthusiasts’ lives, ultimately propelling the slam dunk into a position of prominence, capturing the collective imagination.

The surge in the popularity of slam dunks during the 1970s and 1980s culminated in the inception of the NBA slam dunk competition. This platform bestowed stardom upon high-flying icons such as Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins, whose transcendent abilities catalyzed the NBA’s surge in popularity.

A voyage through the annals of NBA history unveils an array of exceptional players who not only elevated dunking to new zeniths but also established unparalleled standards of excellence in this realm. Their dynamic presence on the court breathed life into the sport and solidified their status as some of the most captivating players to grace the hardwood.

Ranking the Best Dunkers in NBA History

1. Michael Jordan

Dubbed “His Airness,” Michael Jordan stands as an indomitable force, widely recognized as the paramount basketball player of all time. His mastery of dunking transcended mere athleticism, creating indelible moments like the iconic “Jumpman” dunk and the legendary “Free Throw Line” dunk. Jordan’s triumphs in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest resonated deeply, and his signature tongue-wagging dunk became emblematic of his grandeur. With an extensive catalog of in-game dunks that invoked effusive praise, Jordan’s legacy remains that of the unrivaled dunking luminary. In the contemporary landscape of legalized online betting, Jordan’s prowess on the court would have undoubtedly made him a prime favorite among American sportsbooks offering prop bets on player dunks in NBA games. Now that American sportsbooks offer prop bets on player dunks in NBA games, alongside their numerous NBA betting offers, Jordan would have been a huge favorite with US betters if he was still playing in this age of legalized online betting.

Michael Jordan Dunks from Free-Throw Line in the 1988 Dunk Contest
Michael Jordan Dunks from Free-Throw Line in the 1988 Dunk Contest (Photo: Bleacher Report)

2. Vince Carter

Vince Carter, a virtuoso of the hardwood, is universally hailed as one of the preeminent dunkers in NBA history. Carter’s highlight reel is a cornucopia of awe-inspiring dunks, the most iconic being his breathtaking 2000 Olympic dunk over the towering 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis. The year 2000 witnessed Carter’s coronation as the NBA Slam Dunk Contest victor, unveiling a plethora of novel dunks that showcased his peerless creativity and hang time prowess.

3. Dominique Wilkins

Dominique Wilkins, aptly christened “The Human Highlight Film,” emerges as an electrifying figure who enthralled an entire era with his dunking wizardry. Two-time champion of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Wilkins’ repertoire encompasses the powerful two-handed windmill dunk and the authoritative one-handed tomahawk dunk. It was Wilkins’ virtuosity that kindled the fire within a young Michael Jordan, spurring him to carve his own path as a phenomenal dunker.

4. LeBron James

While LeBron James commands recognition for his holistic basketball acumen, his dunking prowess is a testament to his multifaceted talents. Reverberating with power and grace, James’ one-handed tomahawk dunk stands as a testament to his ability to dominate the court and finish with unfaltering authority, even amidst congested lanes.

5. Julius Erving

“Dr. J,” the moniker synonymous with Julius Erving, occupies a pioneering position in the saga of modern dunking. An emblem of the 1970s dunking renaissance, Erving claimed victory in the ABA Slam Dunk Contest of 1976. His airborne ballet was marked by graceful and soaring dunks, epitomized by the enchanting “Rock the Cradle” dunk that resonated through time.

Julius Erving (Dr. J) dunking on Larry Bird
Julius Erving (Dr. J) dunking on Larry Bird (Photo: Twitter)

6. Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin, a veritable dynamo of athleticism, commands the spotlight with his explosive prowess and fearless dunks. Emerging triumphant in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest of 2011 by literally vaulting over a Kia automobile, Griffin’s signature one-handed, off-the-backboard dunk remains etched in memory as a breathtaking spectacle of audacity.

7. Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard, a behemoth of the dunking domain, possesses a gravitational pull that accentuates the potency of his dunks. The victor of the 2008 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Howard’s colossal stature is matched only by his sheer power, exemplified by his authoritative two-handed dunks and his capacity to dunk from stationary positions.

8. Shawn Kemp

“The Reign Man,” Shawn Kemp, looms large as a quintessential figure of the 1990s dunking pantheon. A maestro of explosive two-handed dunks and gravity-defying hang time, Kemp’s audacious ability to soar above defenders is woven into the very fabric of his legacy.

Shawn Kemp posterizes Alton Lister in the 1992 NBA Playoffs

9. Jason Richardson

Jason Richardson, a modestly celebrated dunker, emerges as an unsung aeronaut whose dunking marvels are as mesmerizing as they are underappreciated. Victorious in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest of 2002 and 2003, Richardson’s robust one-handed dunks and his penchant for converting seemingly impossible angles into captivating slams make him an indelible part of dunking history.

10. Spud Webb

At a mere 5’7″, Spud Webb stands as an enigma within the realm of dunking, defying conventional notions of height. His remarkable victory in the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Contest underscored his extraordinary vertical leap, enabling him to surpass defenders who towered above him, thereby establishing himself as an embodiment of perseverance and skill. He is universally recognized as the greatest short dunker in the history of the NBA.

Spud Webb hoists the trophy after winning the 1986 Dunk Contest (Photo:

These ten luminaries are a mere glimpse into the tapestry of the NBA’s most illustrious dunkers, each a custodian of their own unique brand of aerial artistry. Through their gravity-defying feats, they have ignited the passions of fans, elevating basketball to an art form that transcends time and unites generations.

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