Pitting LeBron James' Pregame Dunks Against His Best Career In-Game Flushes

Feb 23, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) dunks during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Heat defeated the Sixers 114-90. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 1, 2013

Comparing LeBron James' pregame dunks with the ones that have actually occurred during game action is a little bit like comparing apples and oranges—if clips of apples and oranges were locks to get millions of views on YouTube.

Thanks to a thoroughly confusing and unnecessary controversy around James and the Miami Heat's pregame dunk contests, LBJ's warm-up exploits have been front-page news of late. That's bad news if you had any remaining faith that only important stories would gain media traction, but good news if you like watching cool dunks.

So, is anyone interested in watching a whole bunch of James' best pregame and in-game dunks?

Thought so.

We'll start with the dunk that kicked off a round of criticism for the King.

It's easy to understand why some folks would see this under-the-legs alley-oop and wonder why James wouldn't want to give the official dunk contest a shot. But really, this particular slam looks spontaneous. And we all know what happens to guys who show up to the dunk contest without a plan.

Does Chris Andersen ring any bells?

James' pregame dunk is awesome, but its degree of difficulty derives from its technical aspects. Dunks in traffic when opposing players are actually trying to prevent you from scoring are obviously pretty different. As it turns out, though, they're no less awesome.

Of course, James' recent pregame exploits didn't stop at just one slam. A couple of days after his first big dunk made waves, LBJ combined two proven formulas from dunk contest history in a Feb. 26 warm-up smash.

Hey, the sweat jacket worked for Brent Barry in 1996, and the through-the-legs maneuver helped crown Kobe Bryant and Isaiah Rider slam dunk champs. So why not put them together?

To date, James hasn't pulled off any in-game dunks while wearing his warmups. Nor has he managed to put the ball through his legs on any dunks that count for actual points. But he has had plenty of showstopping throwdowns.

Again, these in-game dunks lack the creativity and flair of the dunks we've seen before Heat games. But there's just something about the feeling of "this is too easy for me" dominance that makes the ones from actual games seem more impressive.

I mean, there's a reason NBA players don't get paid for what they do in layup lines. When nobody's trying to stop them, it's easy to look good.

But when James makes it look like nobody can stop him by elevating above opponents in real-game conditions...well, that's always going to be more impressive in my book.

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