Top 15 Dunks of LeBron James' Miami Heat Tenure
Despite only playing with the Miami Heat for three years, it was extremely difficult to narrow down LeBron James' best dunks as a member of the Heat to only 15. It’s just what tends to happen when you have the power and strength of Karl Malone, the speed and agility of Tim Hardaway and the hang time of Julius Erving.
What do you get from that mixture? A perfect storm of rim-rattling, dunk-defying and altitude-achieving throwdowns that shake the heavens and the earth themselves. Dunks put down with such ferocity that Satan is banging on the ceiling of Hell with a broom telling LeBron to keep it down up there.
Next time you’re at the American Airlines Arena, make sure to take notice of the divots left in the ceiling by LeBron’s knuckles.
Since we’re all going through basketball withdrawal, a few of LeBron’s dunks will suffice until we start adding new videos to the King’s resume next season.
LeBron Frightens Tyson Chandler: The future Defensive Player of the Year that season wanted nothing to do with this thunderous slam by LeBron going unimpeded to the basket.
LeBron Petrifies Luol Deng: Another case of a defender knowing it's far wiser to simply get away when LeBron picks up a head of steam.
Norris Cole and LeBron Hook Up for the Disrespectful Dunk Over Beno Udrih: Norris could have easily put that layup for the two, but having LeBron smash it on the back of the Orlando Magic point guard was just as much fun.
LeBron Nearly Scalps Himself on the Rim on Alley-Oop vs. Indiana: You know why I love when Norris Cole throws alley-oops? He doesn't think about it. It's immediate and it doesn't give defenders enough time to react and close off LeBron's take-off and finish.
LeBron Goes Baseline on Celtics: Give LeBron the baseline and you're giving up two points.
LeBron Shows Why the Thunder Don't Guard Him with Kevin Durant: See previous description.
LeBron Abuses Milwaukee: LEAVE MILWAUKEE ALONE!
15. LeBron Explodes on the Sixers' Rim
LeBron James has proved in the past that he only needs a few feet of running room to execute a dunk that's going to end up on highlight reels throughout the world.
As a result, LeBron received enough space to thrown down a dunk that would have won the past few Slam Dunk Contests.
14. The Only Part of Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals Worth Remembering for LeBron
Game 2 of the NBA Finals, or the day that every Heat fan has a fuzzy memory of, may have featured the Dallas Mavericks pulling off an epic comeback to turn the tides of the 2011 NBA Finals, but it also showcased one of LeBron's most powerful slams to date.
Courtesy of another Mike Bibby miss—which he did a lot of in those finals—LeBron fell out of the sky and the Mavericks missed the box-out on arguably the greatest athlete to ever suit up in an NBA jersey.
LeBron was forgotten about in this instance, but Dallas made sure to throw five players at him through the rest of the series.
13. LeBron Gives Bill Walker What We All Saw Coming
With Carmelo Anthony not playing, it was up to Bill Walker—now currently out of the league—to guard James for the night.
It didn't go well. All 6'6", 220 pounds of Walker played the victim role when LeBron simply overpowered the smaller defender and went over the top of him as well as Jared Jeffries.
Bill Walker played 32 games in 2011-12 and has been in hiding since.
12. LeBron James Skies Over Rajon Rondo
Any time LeBron performs a feat of extravagant and nefarious athleticism against the Boston Celtics, it's going to be worth remembering.
Especially when LeBron is performing that dunk on Rajon Rondo of all people. The point guard has long been a thorn in the Heat's side, and not even all of the chasedown blocks in the world could neutralize the nuisance and annoyance that Rondo has become to the city of Miami.
Naturally, watching LeBron nearly jump over him on an alley-oop, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals of all points, was a spectacle to behold.
11. LeBron Throws Down Somehow the First 360 of His NBA Career
I read somewhere that people are actually bored of LeBron's dunks.
Those people will never be rightfully entertained. Even if LeBron's dunks can be limited to the one-handed tomahawk or the power alley-oop, each and every last one of those slams is an exhibition of power, speed, agility and strength that has only been beholden by so many people in the history of organized sports.
So LeBron likes to spice things up from time to time. Against the Atlanta Hawks, LeBron threw down the first 360 dunk of his career—something that surprised everyone when it was first uttered by the Heat's commentary crew.
10. LeBron Is His Own Best Alley-Oop Passer
Rather than putting his trust in Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole or any other Heat player, LeBron saved himself the frustration of going up for a wayward pass by trusting himself into making the delivery.
On a fast break against the Milwaukee Bucks, James got caught up in the air with a Bucks player covering Mike Miller, also on the break, and a Bucks player running the trailer.
Rather than force a pass, LeBron realized that he was actually an exceptional athlete and passed to himself for a self-alley-oop that will fall into the ranks of similar plays executed by Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady.
LeBron had done this before, however. He threw a pass to himself from the free-throw line in a game against the Indiana Pacers that would have made the top of this list had the dunk gone in cleanly.
9. LeBron Punches It in on Two Cavaliers
I watch this dunk to this day and still marvel at how LeBron got in between and over the arms of two excellent athletes in J.J. Hickson and Christian Eyenga.
Against the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron tends to take things personal. Since leaving the Cavs, LeBron has had a 38-point effort in 30 minutes, led a 27-point comeback on the road, this dunk, this other dunk and was also involved in a game that featured the Heat opening up a 20-point lead within the first eight minutes.
Poor Hickson and Eyenga were just victims of their environment. LeBron also sent those two into seclusion as Hickson would soon disappear on the Sacramento Kings' bench, while Eyenga is without a team.
8. LeBron Sends Patrick Patterson to the Floor
LeBron James makes dunking on a power forward look far too easy in this particular slam on the head of Patrick Patterson.
The 6'9", 235-pound Patterson fell to the floor like a ton of bricks (accurate because he's wearing red!) after LeBron nonchalantly put him on one of his best posters.
7. "WATCH YO' HEAD"
How can people criticize LeBron James for being egotistical when he can be so nice? Just listen to how he tells the 7'2" Roy Hibbert to watch his head when nabbing an offensive rebound and slamming it through in the same sequence.
That's just being nice. He doesn't want Hibbert to hurt his cranium since the Indiana Pacers are already down by 25, and getting hurt then would have been absolutely pointless.
LeBron should have told the next player on this list the same.
6. LeBron's Meanest Poster Dunk, and It Doesn't Count
Gerald Henderson had to have his ears ringing for the next week after this slam by LeBron.
The play happened so fast that officials allowed a four-point swing to occur after the Heat were in disbelief that the obvious basket didn't count. LeBron threw it down with such ferocity that it caromed off the top of Henderson's head and bounced all the way out to the free-throw line.
Maybe the officials should have given LeBron the benefit of the doubt. Did they think Henderson had blocked that or LeBron just back-ironed the same dunk he's done a million times before?
At least it ended up leading to this.
5(a). A Duo of Dunks on the Bucks
Let it be known: 6'11" power forwards and centers are going to have a hard time guarding James.
And when he's given baseline? Might as well give the two points to him right then and there, because anything else is either going to end up in two free throws or two points on a dunk plus a free throw.
John Henson, a rookie, watched enough of LeBron to know not to get too close to James. However, he still made the criminal mistake of attempting to stop a LeBron dunk, and that never ends well.
He made his bed of being tall and having the responsibility of shot-blocking and protecting the rim, so he must now lie in getting dunked on by all-time great athletes.
5(b). LeBron's Duo of Dunks on the Bucks Part 2
Unlike Henson, Mike Dunleavy made the mistake of fouling LeBron on a play he should have known he wasn't going to stop.
With no foul, the game goes on and there's less time to soak in what just occurred. Because there was a foul, however, the Heat crowd and the stunned bench of both teams watched replay after replay of James going baseline and punching it in on the slower, less athletic Dunleavy.
Once again, how do these matchups occur? How is it that the likes of Dunleavy ends up defending a freak specimen such as LeBron?
I guess the Bucks will just learn from their mistakes, right?
Nope. Watch as LeBron throws down a dunk on the slower Ekpe Udoh just this past postseason.
4. The Suns Are Befuddled by LeBron's Wizardry
The dunk that laid down the groundwork and foundation of LeBron's memorable Miami Heat tenure, his slam on essentially the entire Phoenix Suns team will go down as one of his most ferocious and satisfying.
LeBron splits the double-team up top (a page out of Dwyane Wade's book?), is given ample enough room for liftoff and is able to absorb the hit by Channing Frye to punish a hapless Suns defense that could only watch in awe.
You know you're strong when a 6'11", 248-pound defender grabs your jersey mid-flight and you still dunk in his face anyway.
3. LeBron Climbs Mt. Mahinmi
The 2011 NBA Finals was a series that the Miami Heat and their fanbase would prefer to never remember, but it did include arguably the best poster dunk of James' storied career.
On one of the few opportunities James was able to get to the rim with momentum, he took advantage of it by rising up and literally throwing in a dunk, a la Blake Griffin over Timofey Mozgov, over the 6'11" Ian Mahinmi.
Unfortunately, this dunk is buried deep in the annals of LeBron's career because of the time it came. His performance was so below his usual averages that series, and his past two NBA Finals have been so excellent, that we seemingly forgot LeBron had arguably the best dunk of his career in that strange moment.
2. LeBron Sons John Lucas III
Poor John Lucas III. Just like Mozgov, this is how we're going to remember his career.
Chicago will recall how well he performed that year in relief of Derrick Rose. But the rest of the NBA world is going to envision that time LeBron hurdled him for an alley-oop dunk that was the best of his career before a fateful game against the Boston Celtics the next season.
Lucas is 5'11", and that somehow diminishes the accomplishment? From what I've seen, throwing down a one-handed alley-oop over a professional basketball player in the middle of a game is more difficult than it may seem.
1. LeBron Grounds the Jet
LeBron's taking you to the crossroads.
Fortunately for Terry, he shouldn't be lonely for too long with LeBron's athleticism and strength still at a peak that nobody can reach.
We should have told him to tell Uncle Charles that we miss him.