There are few more electrifying plays in NBA history than the slam-dunk. Nothing gets fans to their seats and the bench going crazy like a monster dunk. Luckily, we have witnessed some of the greatest dunkers in history play the game of professional basketball. The likes of Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon, and Zion Williamson are the best dunkers in today’s game but some truly iconic athletes rank among the greatest to ever do it.
Here are the 10 ranked greatest dunkers in NBA history.
Gerald Green was an incredibly gifted high-flyer when he was in his prime. Green could literally jump out the roof (ok not literally, Green could jump out of the sky) and he is one of the greatest dunkers ever. Gerald Green can proudly say that he has a monster jam against every NBA team throughout his career, and seeing a man get up as high as Green did was incredible to watch.
10. Jason Richardson
Jason Richardson is one of the most electrifying stars in NBA history. Richardson was a good shooter and defender throughout his NBA career, but his athleticism was his greatest attribute. Richardson exploded off his feet for jams probably quicker than anyone in history, and he was a walking highlight reel. Richardson has an unlimited amount of memorable dunks but his 2002 and 2003 Dunk Contest performances have to take the cake as his greatest feats.
9. David Thompson
One of the greatest and most confident dunkers ever, David Thompson possibly got higher than any other NBA star ever. Thompson’s vertical was thought to be 48″, meaning he was a high-flyer of the highest order. Thompson also claimed that he could beat Michael Jordan in a Dunk Contest and that most modern NBA stars are too scared to compete in the contest due to fear of failure. He might have a point, although Thompson’s dunks alone were scary enough to put off any other star from trying.
8. Shawn Kemp
The Seattle Supersonics were an all-time great team thanks to Gary Payton’s leadership at the point guard position and Shawn Kemp’s inside presence. More specifically, Kemp was an absolute monster with the alley-oop. Payton to Kemp was an unstoppable play that normally resulted in posters being made across America, and Kemp’s jam on Alton Lister is the perfect example of how Shawn Kemp would eat defenders alive when he got up in the air.
7. LeBron James
The King never competed in a Dunk Contest, to which we dismay, but LeBron James is one of the greatest in-game dunkers in NBA history. James has a physical advantage every night he plays and he has used it to embarrass defenders throughout his career. LeBron’s mix of power and vertical is truly astonishing to watch and he has an unlimited highlight reel of posters. The best LeBron James dunk is probably the dunk over poor Jason Terry because it just showed how The King rules all by the stare down.
6. Blake Griffin
It was truly a blessing to watch Blake Griffin throw down jams as part of the “Lob City” crew with the Los Angeles Clippers. Griffin was a walking highlight reel and his in-game jams rank among the best of the best. Griffin has an entire collection of posters throughout his career, but his jams over Timofey Mozgov and Kendrick Perkins are two of the most horrifying physical plays in NBA history.
5. Dominique Wilkins
Dominique Wilkins was an extraordinary talent. He was supremely athletic and legitimately has a case for being the greatest dunker in NBA history. Wilkins had a knack for exploding off his feet with speed and power, meaning no defender had a chance to stop him when he had a glimpse of the rim. A 2-time Dunk Contest champion, Wilkins was dubbed the “Human Highlight Film” because his 1 or 2-handed windmill dunks were simply the best in league history.
4. Julius Erving
Dr. J was the ultimate NBA superstar. You name it, he had it. Grace, style, power, and athleticism epitomized what Julius Erving brought to the basketball world. Erving is the player that old heads cherish the most because he was the greatest dunker during his time, and he made it look so damn good all the time. There are countless dunks by Dr. J that rank among the best ever, but his jam over Michael Cooper might be the greatest in-game dunk ever.
3. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant slowed down his dunking a tad as he got older, but a prime Kobe Bryant caught a lot of bodies when he attacked the rim. Bryant was an offensive force unlike we have ever seen because he had an entire offensive arsenal that he could take to the extreme. Bryant has an array of historically great dunks including his jam over one of the greatest defenders ever in Dwight Howard, but his greatest has to be the double pump jam over Kevin Garnett.
2. Michael Jordan
There were more forceful dunkers than Michael Jordan throughout NBA history, but no player made dunking look as beautiful as Jordan did. Nicknamed “Air Jordan”, Jordan literally looked like he was flying as he was up for each dunk. Jordan’s iconic free-throw line dunk broke new grounds because we saw a man glide through the air like a bird with his patented tongue hanging out. In terms of style and grace, there will never be another Michael Jordan.
1. Vince Carter
There is no doubt who the greatest dunker in NBA history is. Vince Carter, dubbed Half-Man Half-Amazing, was certainly the most iconic dunker in basketball because he made it look so pure yet did it with force. Carter could jump out the roof, always attacked the rim aggressively, and feared no defender. Carter’s iconic “Dunk of Death” is possibly the greatest dunk in basketball history, and no player has the catalog of dunks that Carter has.