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Imran’s elite eight: best dunkers

In recognition of NBA All-Star Weekend and the rich tradition of the slam dunk competition, it is time to identify the top eight all-time dunkers that the NBA has seen. These guys have been selected for either show stopping game dunks and/or standout performances in past dunk competitions.

8. As much as I don’t want to put him in here, I suppose Kobe Bryant deserves some respect for the highlights he has brought the league since his rookie year. Kobe won the dunk contest in ’97, his rookie season. The clip that sticks out from his game action dunks occurred during a game in Vegas, where he crossed up his defender and then took off from the dotted line for a one-foot, one-handed flush in traffic. His bench just went nuts, along with the crowd.

7. All of 5-foot-7, a 47-inch vertical: Anthony Spud Webb. His moment of glory was in the ’87 dunk contest, when he took first place. That was the first time we ever got a chance to see him get up and throw down. While his dunks weren’t twisting and hanging, they were spectacular. It’s flat out amazing for a man that size to be able to do a 180 turn in the air off the baseline and dunk, or a double pump with two hands. To tell you the truth, his best highlight is on a fast break where he just takes off in a game from the dotted line and throws down in traffic.

6. Number six, Captain of the Philadelphia 76ers, Julius “the Doctor” Erving. He even says himself he can take some of the credit for “inventing the dunk shot.” He was smooth, gliding through the air and over people. Best remembered for his “rocking the baby to sleep” on Michael Cooper in the Spectrum in Philadelphia, let’s not forget he won the first dunk competition ever played. Not the prettiest style, but he is the Doctor.

5.I can’t help but put this guy in here; I’m a die hard Blazer fan and who better to choose than the veteran player named Clyde “the Glide” Drexler. Drexler dazzled fans throughout his career by gliding to the basket and finishing with finesse. With an uncanny leaping ability and 6-foot-7 frame, one of Drexler’s most memorable moments was taking off from one step inside the foul line to finish. Let’s also not forget the vicious facial he had against the Bulls in the ’92 finals, where he went up and over Billy Cartwright, off two feet with one hand. He is best known for folding his legs on his dunks, taking off of one foot, throwing the ball down with one hand, and all with ease.

4. As far as dunking on people, Vince is about as good as they get. VC has the total package of a primitive dunk specialist. He’s 6-foot-6, can jump out of the building and sends the ball through with style. He won’t go up the middle or baseline and just throw the ball down one-handed with authority; he’ll go up and come under the other side of the rim on a double clutch one-hander. He’s only been in the league a few years, but he’s already had some of the sickest game dunks I’ve seen. Then we can add in his exceptional showing two years ago, when he won the 2000 dunk contest, and that reverse 360 windmill. Yeah, enough said.

3. Dominique Wilkins knew how to combine style with power. And not many were better than he was in game action. ‘Nique had some of the meanest throw downs in game action, ever. He also holds the slam dunk crowns of ’85 and ’90. From tip dunks chin high to the rim, to spectacular alley-oops, to down the middle double pump reverses, he is better known as “the Human Highlight Film.”

2. Shawn Kemp, “the Reignman,” arguably the best game dunker ever. You might think it’s crazy, but Kemp in his prime made simple dunks look spectacular and very frequently used to do it on two or three defenders. Amazing hops, along with his 6-foot-9 frame spelled an unstoppable dunking force. He is known for his legs spread, gliding (almost) free-throw line dunk in the ’91 dunk competition. He may be better known for his cupping one handed facial served up on poor Alton Lister, and boy did he cock that one back.

1. Mr. Michael Jordan is the best dunker around. Too many times we’ve seen him get to the basket and stuff it into someone’s face with his phenomenal athletic ability. He holds two slam dunk titles and a countless amount of game dunk highlights that other players can only dream of doing by themselves in a gym. Jordan has brought to the world of basketball a style that no other player has, and no other player will ever be able to match. With his quick, incredible ups, 6-foot-6 frame, and unmatchable style, Jordan is the only guy around who can hold the nickname of “Air” Jordan. Jordan is not just human, but superhuman.