One of the most humiliating things that can happen to an NBA player is to get posterized. This occurs when a player dunks in the face of another, basically it comes down to the simple fact of who can jump higher. While I do respect players for attempting to block the incoming freight train and not just letting them score, but it has got to be horrible to see yourself getting dominated on every sports network in the world. Yes I am talking to you Shawn Bradley, Dikembe Mutombo, Manute Bol, and Greg Ostertag or Postertag.
With the 2009 NBA Finals in full swing, it is time to examine some of the greatest dunkers of all time. For the list I tried to select influential dunks that changed the way we view the great game of basketball. You will find your favorite idols throwing down in important NBA games, most being in the playoffs. Unfortunately I could not add every dunk I wanted to the list and had to accommodate for video availability and quality. Be sure to comment on some of your favorites that have been omitted and link to the video if it exists.
10. Kobe Dunks on Dwight Howard
I had to add this dunk to the list as Kobe and Howard are facing off in 2009 NBA Finals. Kobe has posterized many NBA stars over the years and there were a number of plays to choose from, but this was one of the best throw-downs I have ever seen. Some other notable Kobe dunks are over Yao Ming, Steve Nash, and Ben Wallace. This particular play took place in a regular season game a couple years ago. Kobe was coming off an injury and was on fire during the entire game. He basically jumps over the 7 ft. Howard and introduces him to the NBA. Dwight still vividly remembers the dunk and vows to never let it happen again.
9. Baron Davis Dunks on Andrei Kirilenko
This dunk took place in game 3 of the 2007 second round playoff matchup between the Warriors and the Jazz. Golden State was coming off an incredible upset by knocking off Dallas in the first round, but lost the series to Utah in five games. This dunk was the highlight of the entire playoffs in my mind. First off Baron Davis is only 6 ft. 3 inches tall and that is extremely small in the NBA. In this play he attacks the basket and posterized Andrei Kirilenko who is a good seven inches taller then him. I love to watch a shorter player soar through the air and dunk.
8. Tracy McGrady Dunks on Shawn Bradley
McGrady might not be known for it, but he is a great dunker. This play occurred in game 2 of the 2005 playoffs between Houston and Dallas. Tracy blows by his defender and has one thing in mind and it is to throw-down. He dunks on Shawn Bradley so hard that I think everyone in the arena felt it. Another great thing about this play is the call by announcer Kevin Harlan. After the dunk he proclaims “he just sucked the gravity right out of the building.”
7. LeBron James Dunks on Damon Jones
LeBron James has quite a resume of dunks and he is only 25-years-old. Everyone knew that he was something special when you watched him dunk between his legs in a high school basketball game. He might not have the acrobatic dunking ability of Jordan and Wilkins, but he elevates higher then any player I have ever seen. He is also an extremely powerful dunker. This particular dunk occurred on February 2nd, 2005 in a Miami vs. Cleveland matchup. LeBron steals the ball and then Jones makes the poor decision to try and block him. He has no chance and LeBron goes right through him on his way to the hoop. Some other famous dunks by LeBron are when he posterized Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.
6. Tom Chambers Dunks on Mark Jackson
Tom Chambers was a great NBA player for many years. He was drafted out of Utah and was selected as the 8th overall pick in the 1981 draft. He was a star on many Suns teams and in the 1989-90 season he averaged 27.2 points per game. His posterization of Mark Jackson had to be added to this list. It was the first time that an NBA player has completely jumped over someone on his way to the hoop. Chambers literally fly’s through the air and extends at least a foot or two above the rim. This was early in his career and just a regular season game against the Knicks, but the athletic ability Chambers displays is astounding.
5. John Starks Dunks on Michael Jordan
This might be the most famous dunk in the storied history of New York basketball. It was game 2 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals. The Knicks had blown a 14-point lead in the 3rd quarter and found the game tied with little time left when the 6’5’’ Starks stormed around a Ewing screen elevated and slammed in the face of Jordan. The Knicks won the game and took a 2-0 lead in the series. One might say that this single play enraged Jordan as he torched New York in the next four games and the Bulls took the series 4 games to 2, eventually winning their third straight championship.
4. Julius Erving Dunks on Michael Cooper
Dr. J was one of the first professional basketball legends to play above the rim. His leaping ability was amazing as he defied gravity. He blocked 1941 shots in 15 NBA seasons. His dunk on Michael Cooper is one of the most famous in the history of the game. It occurred in a January 5, 1983 regular season game between the Sixers and the Lakers. The dunk was in the final minutes of the game and helped to propel Philadelphia to a two-point win. Erving steals the ball and then in a fluent motion strides to the hoop and posterized Cooper. It is funny as Cooper jumps he realizes that he has no chance of blocking Erving, so he just gets out of the way. I can watch this dunk over and over and it never gets old.
3. Dominique Wilkins Dunks All Over Everyone
Dominique might be the best dunker ever to play the game of basketball. He reached his true prime in the 1980’s and was a human highlight reel. We all remember his many battles with Jordan in slam dunk contests during this era, but he also posterized many famous players. I was not able to find a good video of one specific dunk by Dominique, but rather a collection of some amazing slams. When this man went to the rim there was nothing that could stop him. He had the elevation, but is most widely known for his true power. If you tried to block his shot then he would go through you or adjust and make something spectacular. It was almost poetic watching Dominique Wilkins perform.
2. Michael Jordan Dunks on Patrick Ewing
Many would argue that this is the most famous and amazing dunk in the legendary career of Michael Air Jordan. It was game 3 of the first round in the 1991 NBA Playoffs. The Bulls won the contest and eventually swept the Knicks in this series. Chicago went on to capture their first ever NBA title after being a member of the league for 25-years. This entire play is utterly mind-boggling. He shakes Starks with an incredible move, drives the lane, and posterizes Ewing. He reaches heights of unbelievable proportion. You keep waiting for him to come down, but he never stops elevating. He just continues to rise almost reaching towards the heavens and then throws it down with one hand.
1. Vince Carter Dunks on Frédéric Weis
This is widely considered as the greatest dunk of all time. It was the 2000 Olympics and Vince Sanity and the Americans were facing off against the French squad. Frédéric Weis is a famous French player and stands 7 ft. 2 inches tall. On this particular play Carter storms in and steals the ball then he jumps completely over Weis and throws down with one-hand. His hang time is unmatched as he fly’s through the air. It almost looks to be in slow motion and his head is at the rim when he dunks. Trust me the video says it all.