Most people see Leap Day as just an extra day to get paid for the year. We at SiriusXM see it as an excuse to watch slam dunk highlights all day. Here’s a look at the 10 best current and former leapers to grace the NBA with their high-flying abilities.
Over the past two seasons, LaVine has reignited interest in the slam dunk contest thanks to his creativity and insane leaping ability, earning two dunk contest crowns in the process. LaVine is a highlight waiting to happen and anytime he’s doing any sort of dunk showcase it’s must-see TV.
Even though he didn’t win this year’s dunk contest, Gordon probably had the best dunks of the night when he used the Orlando Magic mascot as a prop. Many people thought he should’ve taken the trophy home, so a rematch with LaVine next year is in order.
There is no player in the NBA who attacks the rim with as much ferocity as Westbrook. Arguably the most athletic point guard we’ve ever seen, it’s Westbrook’s attitude of “destroying the rim as if it talked smack about his mom” that sets his dunks apart from most.
King James chose to skip out on competing in dunk contests despite the massive outcry from fans to see him light up the rim during All-Star Weekend. The reason the outcry was so substantial is because James has given us highlights on top of highlights of incredible slams throughout his entire career. Still, “Dunk contests are bourgeois,” will always dictate the King’s non-dunk contest opinion.
For the early part of his career, it seemed like the only thing Griffin could do was dunk. He turned Timofey Mozgov into a verb: “You just got Mozgov’d!” It also helped that Griffin had the benefit of having the Godfather of Lob City, Chris Paul, as his running mate to set him up for highlight-reel slams.
Leapers of Yesterday:
No “best dunkers” list is complete without the inclusion of “His Airness.” Not only were his slams impressive, but they were also iconic, influential and impactful, as a single image of him dunking spawned a sneaker empire.
The original “Human Highlight Reel,” ‘Nique brought a unique blend of finesse and raw power to his dunks. His trademark windmill slam encompassed the combination of flare and ferocity.
The best in-game dunker we’ve ever seen, Vinsanity (who put the dunk contest on life support until Zach LaVine resuscitated it) brought the showmanship of the dunk contest into every game he was in. It took nerve (and skill) to pull of some of the ridiculous slams he would do during games, and teams would be demoralized anytime he got near the rim.
Today’s NBA fans who are watching Bryant’s retirement tour might have forgotten how good of a dunker he was in his heyday. Bryant’s current “old-man game” of jumpshots and post moves is fine for a player pushing 40 years old, but his repertoire was once dominated by relentless drives to the basket. His vintage reverse slam was just filthy.
We’ve saved the best for last. Dr. J. is the father of dunking and pretty much spawned every name listed above. Erving was the first player to have a true above-the-rim attack, finishing with acrobatic slams that would be just as impressive in today’s age. In his prime, Erving could probably take LaVine in a dunk contest.
Bonus: Little-Man Leapers
One of the shortest players in NBA history, the 5-foot-7 Spud Webb shocked the world when he won the 1986 dunk contest. Many, including his Hawks teammate and dunk contest opponent Dominique Wilkins, had never seen him dunk before, so when he skied for his slams it blew everyone’s minds. It looked like Webb was walking on air when he got up to the rim.
At 5-foot-9, Nate Robinson is the NBA’s only three-time slam dunk champion. For one win he jumped over Webb and in another he jumped over the 6’11” Dwight Howard, dubbing himself “KryptoNATE” to Howard’s Superman.
Tags:aaron gordonblake griffindominique wilkinsjulius ervingkobe bryantlebron jamesmichael jordannate robinsonnbanewsletterrussell westbrookspud webbvince carterzach lavine
Music, Sports, News and more
All in one place on the SiriusXM app