Just who would you rank as the top five Raptor dunkers of all time? Some of the names are obvious. A couple may be a surprise.
Here is a sad a fact: the Raptors have made the playoffs just five times. However, they have had four players participate in five NBA Slam Dunk Contests. It really drives home the point of the Raptors lack of success as a team, yet it also shows they have had a lot of talented finishers.
When you have four players that make the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, that makes this a tough list to crack. Honorable mentions go out to a number of worthy guys. Amir Johnson, a current Raptor, can have some monstrous slams on occasion. Long before the stories came out of his dark side, Keon Clark would cause Chuck Swirsky to say “that was sick wicked and nasty.”
Antonio Davis also could throw down a jam once in awhile. The Raptor Mascot should even get consideration as he can jam it, too.
Jamario Moon came out of nowhere to have a brief moment in the NBA spotlight at All-Star Weekend. Moon was a journeyman in basketball, but caught the attention of the Raptors at a free agent camp in the summer of 2007. It earned him an invite to training camp.
He would make the most of that invitation, even becoming a starter for a time later that season. He would also catch the attention of the league at large for his high flying act and get an invite to All-Star Saturday Night and The NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
Moon quickly faded into the NBA abyss after that. He did, for a time, have Raptor fans all a-buzz watching him put on a show. He came close to making a big splash by winning the Slam Dunk Contest, but fell short.
Here is another guy that was once on the fringe of the NBA, but made it big with the Raptors. Sonny Weems joined up with DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson to become a group known as the “Young Gunz” in Toronto.
Weems and DeRozan would become best friends on and off the floor. I got to see a glimpse of that in covering the team while Sonny was a Raptor. They were competitive about everything. The most contested issue between the two has always been who is the best dunker. Both boast slam dunk championships from college and high school.
His performance in Europe in a dunk contest last season was claimed by some fans to be far better than anything they saw at the 2012 All-Star Weekend. In an interview this past Summer, Sonny Weems promised me he will enter the dunk contest in Europe again and defend his title. He is signed to play in Moscow this season.
Sonny Weems paired with DeMar DeRozan for one of DeMar's best dunks in his first of two appearances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. A pass off the side of the backboard by Weems, with DeRozan catching it while running behind him, to climax with the massive slam finish.
Weems is the only player on this list not to compete in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
T-Mac would live in the shadow of his distant cousin Vince Carter in Toronto. He was one of the guys Vince beat back in 2000 to win his Slam Dunk Title, but people forget how great McGrady performed in that contest. What he did with the Raptors can also be overlooked, throwing down his own dunks in games when the two teamed up in Toronto.
“T-Mac to the rack” was how Chuck Swirsky would refer to most of his most memorable work in Toronto. It was just a taste of what was to come. Injuries keep Tracy McGrady much more grounded these days but there were times when he could fly and rival anyone.
He became hated in Toronto for leaving because of what appeared to be jealousy, but he takes the Raptor fan jeers and uses it as motivation. It occasionally allows him to turn back the hands of time for brief stretches. Never to the point where he can fly like he once did, though.
Many still may not like him in Toronto. That said, nobody can deny his talent overall and his ability to throw it down was on point. He wore No. 1 for the Raptors, but he checks in at No. 3 on this list. The video above is not a dunk. Strange granted given this list, but speaks to his crazy athletic ability, along with his take no prisoners attitude.
He was billed out of college as the second coming of Vince Carter. That is a lot to live up to. Despite being the bridesmaid in two slam dunk contests, DeMar DeRozan has earned respect for his own skills to dunk the basketball.
In flashy, over the top Slam Dunk Contests, DeMar DeRozan doesn't engage in the theatrics. He just throws it down and does it the old fashion way. Some strong debates can be made that he should or could be a two-time Slam Dunk Champion.
In the two years he competed in the Slam Dunk Contest he had, arguably, the best dunk of the contest. Matt Devlin, who currently calls Raptor games, started labeling his dunks with the tag “no props required.”
I remember during training camp at a gym up in Ottawa watching this guy goof around trying stuff after practice. It was truly amazing how this kid could get in the air. How high he would get with so little effort. It was just a glimpse of what was to come.
DeRozan has said he is done with the dunk contest and is now focused on trying to improve his game for the Raptors. It is a shame that he is. This kid is a throwback to another era, where it was just about the dunks and not the sideshow complete with league sponsored cars to jump over.
Honestly, it couldn't be anyone else. When you're nicknamed “Air Canada” and you win the only Slam Dunk Title in team history you have to be number one. Vince Carter, near the end of his run in Toronto, proclaimed “dunking is overrated.” It was his idea of a joke. What was no joke is what this guy could do in terms of dunking the basketball. He came on the scene like a comet racing out of control.
The Vince Carter highlight reel is long. Perhaps at the very top of the list is one in which he jumped over top of a giant French man to slam it down for Team USA. Carter would win a Gold Medal and shock the world, leaving them with jaws open wide from that feat.
He is still hated in Toronto to this very day. He is likely the greatest player to ever wear a Raptor jersey. He is, without question, the greatest dunker in Raptors’ history and makes a strong case to be one of the best in NBA history.
He did things on a nightly basis in Toronto that would leave you in pure amazement. Vince Carter was truly something special to watch.