Blake Griffin and The 20 Greatest Dunkers Of All Time (With Video)

Kelly ScalettaFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2010

Blake Griffin and The 20 Greatest Dunkers Of All Time (With Video)

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Blake Griffin is a nightly highlight reel with his routinely sensational dunks.

    No question, the man has talent, but where does he rank among the greatest dunkers of all time? Where does he fit with Michael Jordan, Doctor J and the rest?

    Following are the 20 greatest dunkers in the history of the game. 

20: Connie Hawkins

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    Connie Hawkins was unfairly barred from playing in the NBA for six years due to a point shaving scandal that he had nothing to do with. But he sure could dunk.

    The best I could find was the highlight reel above.

    Watch for the spectacular ball control while palming the ball. I don't know anyone other than Wilt Chamberlain who could so effectively palm the ball. 

19: Tracy McGrady

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    There are probably some of the younger readers who recognize the name but have no idea how brilliant T-Mac used to be. Injuries slowed him down, but he was at one time so spectacular. The video above should attest to that. 

18: Shawn Kemp

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    Shawn "The Regin Man" Kemp was a bit of a precursor to Shawn Kemp in terms of being able to mix tremendous athleticism with power in his dunks.

    Griffin is probably more like Kemp 2.0 in the sense he's an upgrade, but there's a similarity there. Hopefully he won't get fat like Kemp did though.

17: Jason Richardson

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    Jason Richardson won the Dunk Contest twice.

    What is fun about him though is that he doesn't reserve his All-Star Game dunking for the dunk contest. His break away dunks are almost guaranteed to be finished with a flourish. 

16: Nate Robinson

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    Nate Robinson is a little beast.

    His dunks look all the more spectacular because he has to jump so high to be able to get to the rim. My personal favorite moment was when he dunked as "KryptoNate" to beat Dwight Howard's "Superman" in the dunk contest. 

15: Blake Griffin

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    Griffin's dunking has electrified the NBA.

    His mix of athleticism and power is extraordinary. It is a testament to his ability that he can generate this much excitement as a rookie.

    The only worry you have is that when he gets up that high he's going to have to come back down. You just hold your breath every time he dunks hoping that he doesn't get another injury when he hits the ground. 

14: Clyde Drexler

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    Clyde "The Glide" would have been about 100 times "greater" if he played in a less obscure place than Portland for most of his career.

    The relative obscurity of the smaller TV market meant that he got less notoriety, especially since he played in an era before the internet and youtube.

    His amazing versatility and athleticism would have been good for several viral dunks. 

    It's interesting that he's one of the Hall of Famers who defended James' decision to leave since he probably was in the best position to understand what LeBron was going though in Cleveland.  

13: Larry Nance

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    Before there was Michael Jordan. Before there was Dwight Howard or Nate Robinson or Spud Webb, there was Larry Nance.

    Nance won the very first Slam Dunk contest, earning him the nickname of T"he High-Ayatolla of Slamola", which is a pretty cool nickname if you ask me. 

12: Gus Johnson

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    Before there was Larry Nance, a long time before there was Larry Nance, there was Gus "Honeycomb" Johnson.

    Johnson was one of the first, if not the very first among the air walking lineage of dunkers. He was the first to play so much of his game above the rim and was arguably the games' first great dunker. 

11: David Thompson

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    Believe it or not, the NBA didn't invent the Slam-Dunk contest. The ABA did that.

    The first competition came down to Julius Erving, aka Dr. J., and David "Skywalker" Thompson.

    Erving won the finals with his famous, from the free throw line dunk. It is a testament to him that Michael Jordan chose him to be his presenter when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

10: Daryl Dawkins

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    When Darryl Dawkins came to town you had to make sure you had an extra backboard on hand. His dunks were so powerful that from time to time the backboard didn't survive.

    His size, power and athleticism were extraordinary and they all came together in harmony when he dunked. 

9: Spud Webb

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    Spud Webb shocked the world when he entered the Slam-Dunk contest. He shocked his teammate, Dominique Wilkins when he won it.

    Spud was only five foot seven inches tall (the same height as me, but I can only dunk donuts). Spud once dunked on Manute Bol, who was a full two feet taller than him in a game. 

8: Shaquille O'Neal

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    Every once in a while you still see flashes, but Shaq used to be the most powerful dunker in the game.

    He was so big and powerful and, in his thinner days, much more athletic than people realize.

    His footwork was something special, as you can see in some of the videos above. Shaq was so powerful that he even occasionally broke the unbreakable backboards. Watch this "shot clock violation" here. 

7: Kobe Bryant

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    Kobe Bryant's athleticism is amazing and it's featured in his amazing dunking ability.

    His ability to move through traffic and then consummate the drive with a "how-in-the-world-did-he-do-that" dunk is just another thing that makes him Kobe. 

6: Dwight Howard

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    Dwight Howard is the latest "Superman" but no one is going to take that title away from him without his permission.

    His 12 foot dunk is one of the greatest dunks in the history of the All-Star contest, not just because he made it, but because it looked like he could have gone to 13 feet.

    Still, the Krypto-Nate dunk won that year in part because Howard was willing to play along. 

5: LeBron James

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    I already see the complaints from the Kobe fans, "How can you have LeBron above Kobe?!?!" Well he's a better dunker that's how.

    His power and athleticism are just phenomenal. There is no one in the game today who is a better dunker than LeBron James, period. 

4: Vince Carter

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    The greatest in-game dunk in the history of the Olympics came when Vince Carter, off of a steal, jumped over the seven foot two inch Frederick Weis' head and dunked the ball.

    When asked about the dunk and why he hadn't put his hands up, Weis explained, "I don't know, I never had anyone jump over my head before."

    Probably not. Even in France the dunk is famously known as "Le dunk de la mort" or "the dunk of death." 

3: Dominique Wilkins

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    Wilkins won the dunk contest in its heyday, when the superstars played for the title. Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins had some legendary battles, consummating in the 1988 contest, the best ever.

    Jordan won that one, which is why Wilkins is number three on this list. 

     

    I have  succumbed to the masses and moved Carter up. 

2: Julius Erving

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    Julius Erving was the first of the endorsers. He was the first player to have a shoe made in his name, when Converse started making "Dr. J.s".

    He was extraordinary and the first real showman dunker. Much of the way the game today is rooted in the way that Dr. J. played the game. 

1: Michael Jordan

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    I know there's all kinds of technical stuff about how he didn't stay in the air as long as it "appeared" he did and all that. But he was able to appear that way.

    His "Airness" was simply the most watchable player ever. Whether it was in a game or the dunk contest, Jordan was always the highlight of the show.