NBA | May 17, 2023

Ranking the Top 10 Dunks in NBA History

By Harry Bazley

USATSI 8499331

When it comes to the NBA, there have been countless jaw-dropping dunks that have left fans in awe. From iconic players like Michael Jordan to rising stars like Zach LaVine, these athletes have put on a show with their aerial acrobatics.

In this article, we will count down the top 10 dunks in NBA history - from dunk contest slams to the top in-game posterizers - each showcasing the creativity, power, and sheer athleticism of these remarkable athletes.

10. Dwight Howard: 2008 Slam Dunk Contest

During the 2008 Slam Dunk Contest, Howard amazed the crowd with his extraordinary athleticism and showmanship. Wearing a Superman cape, he took off from the free-throw line, soaring through the air like the Man of Steel himself. This dunk solidified Howard's status as a dominant dunking force and cemented its place as one of the most memorable slams in NBA history.

9. Dominique Wilkins vs Celtics

Dominique Wilkins, known as "The Human Highlight Film," is widely regarded as one of the greatest dunkers in NBA history. Among his many remarkable dunks, his best is often considered to be his double clutch dunk against the Atlanta Hawks in 1984. Known for his incredible leaping ability and power, Wilkins showcased his skills in this particular dunk, double clutching the ball from the baseline and throwing it down for 2.

8. Gerald Green vs Rockets

On March 10, 2012, Gerald Green, typically known for riding the bench, astounded the crowd during a game between the New Jersey Nets and the Houston Rockets. This incredible display by Green is undoubtedly the pinnacle of his career and would be considered a remarkable highlight for almost any legendary player.

7. Aaron Gordon: 2016 Slam Dunk Contest

In the 2016 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Aaron Gordon delivered an unforgettable dunk that arguably should have won him the contest...

During the final round, Gordon leaped over the Orlando Magic mascot, a towering figure known as Stuff the Magic Dragon, grabbed the ball over the mascot's head, put it under his legs and threw down a thunderous behind-the-head dunk.

6. Julius Erving vs Lakers

In 1983, Julius Erving, commonly known as Dr. J, showcased his extraordinary dunking abilities against the Los Angeles Lakers. With the game in progress, Erving took flight in extraordinary style, cupping the ball in one hand with his gather steps and swinging the ball round for a ridiculous windmill dunk.

5. Blake Griffin vs Thunder

In 2010, Blake Griffin announced his arrival in the NBA with a dunk that shook the basketball world. Griffin elevated over Kendrick Perkins, threw down a monster jam, and the crowd went wild. It was a dunk that symbolized Griffin's physicality and ability to dominate the game.

4. Zach LaVine: 2016 Slam Dunk Contest

Zach LaVine grabs the number 4 spot with his iconic performance in the 2016 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. LaVine went head-to-head with Aaron Gordon in an epic battle that pushed both players to new heights in what is widely regarded as the greatest dunk contests of all time. LaVine's mid-air acrobatics, including a through-the-legs dunk and a behind-the-back reverse dunk, solidified his status as one of the most exciting dunkers in NBA history.

It's tough to pick a favourite from the night - pretty much every dunk could make this list - so we're leaving this one up to you.

3. Spud Webb: 1986 Slam Dunk Contest

Spud Webb, the 5'7" dynamo, takes the number 3 spot with his unforgettable dunk in the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Despite being one of the shortest NBA players ever, Webb showcased his incredible leaping ability by soaring over taller opponents and putting the ball through the hoop with authority. It was a dunk that proved height is no barrier to greatness.

2. Vince Carter: 2000 Slam Dunk Contest

At number 2, dunk in NBA history belongs to none other than Vince Carter. In the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Carter put on a show that will be forever etched in basketball lore. With unparalleled creativity and athleticism, Carter unleashed a dunk that transcended the boundaries of imagination. Performing a mind-boggling 360 windmill dunk, he seemed to hang in the air for an eternity, captivating fans and solidifying his status as one of the greatest dunkers of all time.

Here are all the dunks from the legendary contest, but his first of the night is our favourite.

1. Michael Jordan: 1998 Slam Dunk Contest

Finally, the number 1 dunk in NBA history is from none other than Michael Jordan himself. His famous dunk from the free-throw line in the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest is an image etched in the minds of fans worldwide. Jordan seemed to defy gravity as he soared through the air, extending his arm and gliding towards the basket with unmatched grace. In this moment, Jordan created perhaps the most iconic image in NBA history.

So, that completes our list of the top 10 dunks in NBA history. Did we miss any of your favourites? Do you think any of these dunks will be topped? Let us know your thoughts over on Twitter & Instagram.

(Header Image Credit: Chris Humphreys - USA TODAY Sports)