Picking the greatest in-game dunker of all time is kind of like selecting the best in-traffic driver. "Wow, did you see that green Subaru manuever from lane three to lane two just now? Perfect". "Hm, that was okay, but I think the yellow Jetta's decision to stay put will win out in the end."
In other words, it's subjective.
Fans of Jettas will understandably lean towards the V-Dub, just like a fan of the ATL will rave forever about 'Nique. I have no doubt that the following will be scrutinized, analyzed and could likely leave me victimized, but I will press on. This is my list of the NBA's greatest in-game dunkers.
The classification is important; these are guys who dunked, with some shock and awe, during the game.
You may not believe this to look at me know, but I used to be able to dunk. Being able to throw-down was about the only thing I had on my high school bucket list. While other kids were concerned with meeting girls, partying, rocking out to Devo or actually graduating high school, I wanted to dunk.
Even though I had access to a gym at school, I joined one near my house with the sole intention of working on my hops. My dad and I set up a hoop in my backyard and the battle was on. I could touch the rim with no problem. Then, I was gripping it. I thought I was close, but quickly realized that the trick in getting off a dunk is to get ABOVE the rim.
Ah, bummer. Back to the gym, but I was close.
I still remember it clear as I day. I was outside, working on my dunk, like pretty much every day after school, when it happened. I took my customary running start and elevated. It felt different from the second my feet left the ground.
Maybe I took off from the right angle, maybe the earth had shifted somehow giving me an extra gravitational lift, maybe it was just dumb luck—but I was on my way. It really was slow motion. I saw myself getting closer to the rim, I cocked my arm back, kept my eyes open and threw down!
I stayed up, holding the rim with both hands as I saw the ball bounce off my feet. I dunked!
Dude, I dunked.
Sure, it was just a tennis ball and maybe the rim wasn't exactly 10 feet off the ground and no one was there to see it, but I know I did it. That day, I joined the ranks of the players on this list. As a guy who once dunked, sort of, in a way, kinda.
It's with that background as a dunker that I bring this list. I think it gives me a little extra credibility, don't you think? As amazing as my dunk, which I called either "Shock and Awe-mazing" or "Get out of my Wayyy, my name is Hose-Ayyyy", was, I realize it wasn't all that special because it didn't come during a game.
Dunking in the gym or backyard and dunking in a game is the difference between shooting bad guys on Call of Duty and doing it real time in Afganistan. it's the difference between chatting up that pretty girl online, using your "other" name and picture, or actually walking up to her to communicate.
Night and day.
This is the criteria I used to put together my list.
1. This player had to have dunked in a game.
Larry Nance was a great player and a pretty amazing dunker, he even won the NBA dunk contest, but his in-game his dunks were pretty pedestrian. Same goes for Nate Robinson.
2. A single in-game dunk can get you on the list, but the more you have, the better.
3. The dunks have to be of the type that get fans and players off the bench.
This criteria alone will leave off some amazing dunkers like Jason Richardson, David Thompson, even Dwight Howard and others. All great players and amazing dunkers, but although each has thrown down in a game, few left me screaming "WOW".
Simple enough, right? The greatest in-game dunkers of all time according to me.