The 20 Nastiest Dunks in Kentucky Basketball History
The Kentucky Wildcats' tradition has spanned several decades. Fans know this.
Foes have to acknowledge this, even if they do so begrudgingly.
Included in this rich tradition is a nice collection of great dunks. Most will be ones you remember, but there may be a few that have slipped your mind.
There's also a good chance that Julius Randle, Marcus Lee and maybe even James Young make a strong case to be among the top dunkers in UK history before it's all said and done.
For those of you reading this who are a generation older than I am, feel free to comment, drop knowledge and shed light on some players and plays from before my time.
That said, we have to mention two members of the 1978 national championship team, Jack "Goose" Givens and James Lee. There wasn't any specific video of them throwing down some nasty dunks, but they were definitely some high-fliers from that era.
Let the countdown commence.
20. 1995: Walter McCarty vs. Vanderbilt
We all have our memories of Walter McCarty. He was long and lanky, and he stretched the floor with his ability to hit the three-point shot.
Although thin, he was a good shot-blocker and solid rebounder. When the opportunity presented itself, he would flush one on you, too.
In the clip above, he bobbled the ball at half court, gathered himself and drove all the way to the rim.
The Vanderbilt defender had plenty of time to react but was powerless to do anything about it.
19. 2005: Kelenna Azubuike vs. Tennessee
Kelenna Azubuike just oozed with athleticism. He was 6'5" and 220 pounds and could jump out of the gym.
This dunk would have been higher on the list, but fortunately for him, the Tennessee defenders had the wherewithal to get out of the way.
If this clip is No. 19, you know it's a strong list.
More from Kelenna later.
18. 2011: Darius Miller vs. St. John's
Every player who dons the Kentucky jersey across their chest is beloved by Big Blue Nation. Players born and raised in the Bluegrass State have an extra-special place in their hearts.
Darius Miller falls into the latter category. He won a state title and Mr. Basketball honors while at Mason County High School.
A lot of times, he seemed just a tad passive on the court, but everyone knew there was just a little bit more below the surface. When he channeled that little something extra, this was the result.
This game is pretty much over when this dunk takes place, but notice how the St. John's player immediately called for a timeout.
The Red Storm had had enough. Darius made sure of it.
17. 2010: John Wall vs. Georgia
The moment John Wall committed to Kentucky, everyone knew the dreadful memories of the Billy Gillispie era would soon be a thing of the past.
The turnaround may have even come a little faster than expected. John Wall came in and hit the ground running.
This steal and breakaway was just one of his many highlights while at UK. He raced to the rim and punched it in with his left hand, as he was prone to do.
Yep, pretty explosive.
16. 2010: Terrence Jones vs. Notre Dame
Terrence Jones just took his sweet time and got where he wanted to go down on the low block.
One fake drop step later, two Fighting Irish big men felt the wrath.
This is pretty good, but it's not the best we're going to see from Jones.
15. 1995: Jeff Sheppard vs. Arkansas
The battles Kentucky had with Arkansas and Nolan Richardson were epic. You just knew Jeff Sheppard would make his mark on this game, just as he did in so many others.
Check out Arkansas' Dwight Stewart. He actually tried to time his steps near the top of the key, which is hilarious.
As he did so, Sheppard just raced right on past him and posterized him.
14. 2010: Terrence Jones vs. UConn
Terrence Jones gave a little head-and-shoulder fake-out by the three-point line to see if anyone would take the bait.
The Huskies weren't biting on that. So he proceeded down the lane with very little resistance.
The resistance finally came at the bucket, but by then, it's too late. Jones just rose up and flushed on both of the would-be resisters.
13. 2006: Kelenna Azubuike vs. South Carolina
The cross-court pass revealed a few holes in the South Carolina defense.
Kelenna Azubuike had no trouble finding them. Notice how he had made up his mind that he was attacking even before he caught the ball.
His anticipation was great, and he was getting his footwork in order while the ball was still in the air.
12. 1978: Dwight Anderson vs. Notre Dame
I had been on this earth for one year when this dunk took place.
Prior to writing this article, I had been talking with my dad about some of the UK players of the 1970s. He casually mentioned Dwight Anderson as well as Givens, Lee, Rick Robey and all of the rest. I'm glad he did, and I was really surprised to find such a good clip of Dwight in action.
The Cats were in a tight game with Notre Dame here. Anderson took the pass and raced up court. There waiting was Orlando Woolridge. Yeah, that Orlando Woolridge, the late great Orlando Woolridge, who was a phenomenal player at Notre Dame, had a long NBA career and was a great leaper in his own right.
None of that mattered to Dwight Anderson.
He went right at him and didn't think twice about it, either.
11. 2004: Kelenna Azubuike vs. Georgia
Hello? Is anybody there? Anybody at all?
Georgia was just hanging out, not paying any attention. Defense was the farthest thing from their minds, and the baseline was wide open.
Azubuike caught the ball, and no doubt his eyes lit up, much to the dismay of Dennis Felton and the Bulldogs.
The Georgia defense reacted just in enough time to get crammed on.
10. 2011: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Portland
This is the play that revived Rupp Arena on this particular Saturday night.
Earlier that afternoon, the Kentucky football team had just beaten Tennessee 10-7, snapping a string of 26 straight losses to the Vols. A lot of UK fans at the basketball game had also gone to the football game. The exhilarating high coupled with the fact that the basketball Cats were playing a lesser opponent in Portland had the crowd kind of mum.
MKG changed all of that. This facial happened so fast off of the turnover that at first glance, it's hard to see the defender from Portland challenge Kidd-Gilchrist.
Unfortunately for him, he did.
If he had it to do over again, I think he would have thought better of it.
9. 2009: Perry Stevenson vs. UNLV
Just like Walter McCarty in 1995, Perry Stevenson took the rock from half court and capped off the drive with a nasty throwdown.
What an odd time this was. It was springtime, yet Kentucky was playing an NIT tournament game instead of an NCAA tournament game. The wins weren't as plentiful as fans were accustomed to, but it wasn't due to a lack of effort on P-Steve's part.
The UNLV defender attempted to take a charge. Had he tried to contest the dunk, there's a good chance the end result would have been the same.
8. 1996: Derek Anderson vs. Indiana
One fundamentally sound bounce pass from Ron Mercer was all Derek Anderson needed. He took care of the rest, at the expense of Andre Patterson.
Dick Vitale was "calling D.A. down," admonishing him to stop dancing all the while loving every minute of it.
Who can blame Anderson for dancing? Kentucky was pounding Indiana, and Bob Knight was pacing the sideline resisting the urge to blow more gaskets.
In that situation, it's easy to get caught up in the moment.
7. 2005: Joe Crawford vs. Louisville
What's better than dunking on a Louisville Cardinal? Doubling up and posterizing two Cards with one slam.
Joe Crawford did just that as the Cats toppled No. 4-ranked Louisville in Rupp Arena.
As Billy Packer said, it "was some power leap!"
Also receiving votes is the hammer Joe threw down at Mississippi State on big man Jarvis Varnado.
6. 2012: Darius Miller vs. Ole Miss
The first mistake Ole Miss made was allowing Darius Miller to get the ball in the soft spot of their zone.
Reginald Buckner made the second error in thinking he could bail out his teammates by erasing Miller's dunk attempt.
Miller enjoyed that one, too.
He put aside his usually calm and even-keeled demeanor and strutted back up the court for a few seconds before running back on defense.
5. 2011: Terrence Jones vs. South Carolina
There are a variety of ways to be embarrassed on the basketball court. Shooting an air ball or missing a wide open layup quickly come to mind.
South Carolina forward Sam Muldrow had two regrettable moments in the same play.
Not only did Terrence Jones cross him over at the three-point line, but he also then went on to dunk all over him as Muldrow attempted to recover and make the block.
To add another dash of salt to his wound, Jones finished with his right hand.
4. 1985: Kenny Walker vs. Louisville
Remember back in 2008 when Dwight Howard did his Superman dunk? You remember, back before his back injury and his Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers drama. Everyone went crazy over how he threw the ball through the hoop en route to winning the Slam Dunk Contest.
Blake Griffin had a similar play for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2010.
Kenny Walker had been there and done that more than 20 years prior to both of those plays.
He didn't have any momentum built up, either. He simply turned, elevated over two defenders and finished on both of them.
This was no fluke, either. He Kenny-skied all the way the 1989 Slam Dunk Contest title.
3. 1986: Rex Chapman vs. Louisville
King Rex was a bad man. I've always known this, I just wish I had been a little bit older so I could have really appreciated how good he was while he was at Kentucky. Watching old footage just doesn't do him justice.
The video above is of Rex dismantling Louisville in 1986. Click ahead to the 3:25 mark to see Chapman crush one over then-Louisville forward and current Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne.
This dunk is permanently etched into our minds, and it continues to live on among the current Kentucky players. Chapman was on Kentucky Sports Radio in September leading up to his induction in the Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame. He said that UK's current freshmen give Payne grief about being dunked on by Rex.
Don't sweat it, Coach Payne. If someone's going to get you, it might as well be one of the best who does it.
2. 1983: Dirk Minniefield vs. Mississippi St.
Thirty years ago, Dirk Minniefield blew the roof off of Rupp Arena.
That's not all that far from the truth.
Let's take a second to reflect on another play that will attempt to give us some perspective on what Dirk really did.
Remember Tom Chambers of the Phoenix Suns? How about his famous dunk over current Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson? That was a great dunk. Chambers' knees were in Jackson's chest as he soared over and through him on his way to the hoop.
Tom Chambers is 6'10". Dirk Minniefield is 6'3".
The height that Dirk was able to reach is amazing. He just continued to rise and rise. Then he rose some more. It was as if he decided to return back to earth simply because he felt like it. He grew bored with ascending.
Tip of the hat to the late Mel Turpin, who started the whole thing with his defense way outside of the paint.
Dirk took it from there.
1. 1996: Derek Anderson vs. Louisville
Here we are at No. 1. Derek Anderson is at it again. He is the recipient of another fundamentally sound bounce pass, this time from Anthony Epps.
Think back to how nasty D. A. was in the No. 9 video when he dunked on Indiana. When you compare that clip to this one, he seems downright nice and polite. He is dancing and smiling after that dunk. Dickie V was "reprimanding" him.
Not so in this one. Anderson absorbs the contact from Nate Johnson, finishes emphatically and hangs on the rim with that look. The look that says, "You Cards can't do anything about this."
Derek Anderson is a Louisville native. The abuse he doled out to his hometown school on this play is just insane. The Louisville players are traumatized, and head coach Denny Crum looks like someone kicked his dog.
What about poor Nate Johnson?
Nate, if you still occasionally have nightmares or flashbacks, we totally understand.
A facial like that can take years to get over.
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