The 10 greatest dunks in NBA Slam Dunk history

Vince Carter, Jason Richardson and Blake Griffin put up some of the best jams in the history of the NBA dunk contest. (AP)


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The slam dunk contest is the marquee event of NBA All-Star Weekend and has helped catapult the careers of many of the most well-known players in the history of the game.

The following is a list of what I consider to be the 10 greatest dunks in the history of the competition, taking into account the technical difficulty of the dunk, the showmanship around it and its iconic nature. To help the sake of argument, this has been put together in chronological order with only one dunk per player for variety.

Spudd Webb self-alley-oop reverse – 1986
Really, any dunk from Webb’s 1986 championship run could’ve worked here, but this one particularly stands out because at the time self-alley-oops, while being used in competition, weren’t all that common and definitely weren’t being used with the flare that Webb conveyed in this slam. It’s a pre-cursor of sorts to the many stylish self-lob dunks that were to come.

Michael Jordan from the free throw line – 1988
It’s the dunk that spawned an entire brand and culture. “Air Jordan” has a lot of his legacy to thank from this homage to Dr. J.

Vince Carter bounce between the legs – 2000
Like Jordan’s free throw line slam, kids around the world hung up this dunk on their walls everywhere and this helped slingshot Carter into superstardom. Sure his first dunk in the competition (that 360 windmill) was probably technically better, but this is perhaps the most iconic dunk in the history of the contest with Kenny Smith yelling, “It’s over,” to Carter himself saying that to the camera.

Jason Richardson self-lob, between-the-legs, one-handed reverse – 2003
For the record, I think this is the best dunk in the history of the contest. This slam gets forgotten because Richardson didn’t turn into a star, but it should live on forever.

Andre Iguodala lob-behind-the-backboard reverse – 2006
The degree of difficulty on this dunk is completely outrageous. Not only does he have to wrap the ball around the backboard because of where he’s taking the lob, he also has to get it through the hoop quickly because he's jumping away from it, all the while bending his neck so he doesn’t slam his face into the board.

Dwight Howard Superman slam – 2008
Howard did some more impressive stuff in the 2008 contest than this one, but no one really remembers them because none of it had the theatrics of this famous homage to Superman. Showmanship is a big part of the contest and when a guy dons a cape, rips off his jersey to reveal the famous “S” on his chest and is then nicknamed the man of steel all because of one dunk that technically wasn’t even a dunk, then that jam belongs on this list.

Blake Griffin off-the-backboard elbow hang – 2011
Forget about the stupid dunk over the Kia car, which was clearly manufactured, product placement garbage that basically gifted Griffin this contest win. This was his best dunk of that night and man if it wasn’t awesome. Channelling Carter from 2000, Griffin took it one step further with the lob off the glass and then hanging that much longer for an extra bit of swagger.

DeMar DeRozan self-lob, one-handed reverse windmill – 2011
Thought I was done ranting about that Kia car dunk? No way. DeRozan was robbed in the 2011 dunk contest (and the 2010 one for that matter as well) and the best example of that is this masterpiece he called the “showstopper.” The technical prowess required to do something like this is absolutely mind-boggling. So give it up.

John Wall leapfrog pump reverse – 2014
This had a little bit of everything you want in a great dunk contest slam going for it. Really impressive looking hang time with the pump, a gimmick involving jumping over a mascot and an awesome dance at the end to sell the total package.

Zach LaVine Space Jam slam – 2015
There are few things I’ve enjoyed in this world more than the 1996 cinematic epic Space Jam, so I’ll address that first. In his intro, LaVine talked about how Space Jam influenced him to become a basketball player, then he actually got Quad City DJ’s to do the Space Jam theme live, followed up by him donning the Jordan Tunes Squad jersey. Amazing. As for the dunk itself? The kid does a self-lob, through-the-legs reverse. So yeah, not bad.


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