Over the past 10 years, we have been witness to some of the most athletically-gifted players on the planet.
We have been able to benefit off of this new generation of athletes by being able to witness some of the greatest dunks in the history of the NBA. With players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and J.R. Smith giving their best when it comes to aerial displays of athleticism, there never can be a dull moment when watching an NBA game since there is always the chance that you'll see one of these feats pulled.
Lately, there has been a trend among small guards becoming some of the league's best dunkers. Players like Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Shannon Brown all stand at 6'3", but can somehow dunk as if they were the height of a regular small forward. Not until recently have we seen players of this size become the league's top dunkers, and it's something that we can all get used to, considering the plays they have made.
From poster dunks to alley-oops, NBA players have astounded and amazed us with what they're capable of when given an open lane. Here are 50 of the best dunks that we have seen over the past decade. These 50 dunks are possibly the best that we have seen considering the amount of athleticism that is involved in every aerial assault.
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Centers, especially Andrew Bogut, usually don't have the greatest dunks. Considering that they aren't fast or athletic enough to create a good enough dunk to end up on a highlight reel, it came as a surprise to see Bogut posterize the 6'10" Glen Davis, and then send him to the floor.
The best dunk of the decade from Milwaukee coming from Andrew Bogut? To my knowledge, sadly yes.
It's difficult enough to throw down an alley-oop. It makes it even more difficult when you're being pushed away and blocked from the basket by someone that has four inches on you.
Gerald Wallace likes a challenge.
Ever since Shaquille O'Neal began tearing rims down like it was his purpose in life, the NBA has made it a purpose to fortify and strengthen the rim. No player since then has come close to bringing down the rim, but Dwight Howard came close when he threw down and knocked down the shot clock at the Quicken Loans Arena.
Before joining the league, DeMar DeRozan was drawing comparisons to Kobe Bryant.
I can now see why.
Dwyane Wade didn't look because he knew he could just watch it on ESPN later.
Steve Nash really needs to learn to stop attempting to take charges from the league's best dunkers. It's always nice to see him attempting to contribute by taking the charge, but when it's against a player like Josh Smith who is running on all cylinders, maybe it would be best to just move out of the way.
Even the best of us can end up on a few posters from time to time.
All right Andres, if you're going to attempt to block Vince Carter's shot, can you at least put a hand up instead of jumping and then getting the ball slammed on to the top of your head?
Just another victim of Vinsanity's insanity.
Is it me or are small guards becoming the league's top dunkers?
I'm not saying that there is a problem with this as long as players like Derrick Rose keep throwing down alley-oops like this.
It's nice to see effort when attempting to block a dunk, but I think Jon Brockman should have just let this one go. DeAndre Jordan is far too quality of a high-flyer to block and it's even more difficult to time it well enough to block his dunk off an alley-oop.
Fear the beard? Not in this instance.
One of the best long-distance dunks in an NBA game would come from LeBron James. When on the fast break, James is one of the most volatile and entertaining players to watch. Rather than performing his usual tricks while in the air, he managed to dunk it from just a little within the free-throw line.
Sometimes life isn't fair. Especially when you face off with a player who can complete a dunk after jumping nearly 10 feet away from the rim.
For only one year's worth of game time, Blake Griffin certainly has a lot of dunks in a list that spans over the past decade.
However, you can't argue when most of his dunks are better than what we have seen over the past 10 years.
Omer Asik is in the midst of becoming one of the league's better post defenders. He can play with the best, but he's going to need to get his weight up if he wants to even think to attempt to defend Dwight Howard.
Howard responded to Asik's defense by using his freakish athleticism to knock the wind out of Omer and then dunk on him.
Gerald Wallace attempted to make this dunk as difficult as possible by shoving Andre Iguodala mid-flight. Being the athletic juggernaut that he is, Iguodala still found a way to throw down the dunk over the 6'8" Wallace.
Unstoppable? That's for you to decide.
Is Dwight Howard dunking on Jrue Holiday a fair contest? Not at all.
Does that mean we can't enjoy the angriest poster of Dwight Howard's career? Of course not.
A regular clash of the titans as the high-flying Andre Iguodala met up with the shot-blocking Yao Ming at the rim.
Tyrus Thomas once again displayed his astounding ability to lift off by rising up and throwing down over one of the NBA's best shot blockers in Josh Smith.
This dunk stands out because, if you look at it, it seems that Thomas continues to rise as he is met by resistance.
Vince Carter could make a top 100 list of his dunks alone. On this particular dunk, Carter not only slammed it over the top of the taller Vlade Divac, but also completed the beautiful spin move on his way to the rim.
Maybe defenders should just back up and let Carter do his thing.
As the league's most athletic player, LeBron James has a duty and responsibility to end up on as many highlight reels as possible. He was successful in this instance when he threw down an insane dunk on Chicago Bulls rookie James Johnson.
Johnson never stood a chance as he endured one of James' best posters.
Was the alley-oop off the glass necessary? Probably not, considering that there was an easy lay-up available.
Marco Bellineli is probably the only person complaining about the showmanship of this throw-down.
Tyrus Thomas' skill set is basically limited to blocking shots and throwing down powerful dunks.
He made sure to display both of those accolades in one play.
Prior to joining forces in Miami, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James had already established themselves as the league's best slashers and finishers. Since they have come together, they have connected on some of the best alley-oops that the league has seen in quite some time.
This particular alley-oop came early in the year and it showed just what these two players are capable of when given the opportunity.
People that are 6'3" shouldn't be capable of this.
Since Shannon Brown made this alley-oop look so beautiful, we'll make an exception in his case.
Luis Scola has a few inches on Rudy Gay, but all that meant was an even prettier poster dunk.
Nice to see Dikembe Mutombo show up to the party as well.
As good as Vince Carter's dunk on Frederic Weis was, this is the first time in an actual regulation basketball game that one player actually managed to successfully jump over another. While he was only able to jump over him following the completion of the dunk, it still came as a surprise to everyone when Kirk Snyder managed to throw down over Von Wafer.
Before Gerald Wallace was making a name for himself with Charlotte and Portland, he was busy establishing his career with the Sacramento Kings. In a preseason game against Houston, Wallace took advantage of the open lane by throwing down a nasty, high-flying dunk on Bostjan Nachbar.
Preseason isn't the time to be taking charges or ending up on posters.
Goran Dragic doesn't deserve that type of treatment. C'mon Derrick, pick on someone your own size!
When you watch Russell Westbrook's high-flying acrobatics, sometimes you tend to forget that he's only a 6'3" point guard.
He's done a number of windmills in the past, but none better than the one he made on a fastbreak against the Detroit Pistons. With full extension, Westbrook completed the perfect windmill and continued to make a name for himself as one of the league's top dunkers.
If there's a player that knows how to finish off an alley-oop, it's Dwight Howard. Against the Boston Celtics, Howard took an alley-oop pass that was way too far for any average human being to catch. Howard isn't like most human beings and decided to prove that by throwing down the near-impossible alley-oop.
Tim Duncan doesn't deserve this type of treatment, not even from LeBron James. I bet even he was surprised when James managed to rise up high enough to throw down the dunk over the top of his 6'11" frame.
Possibly the best poster dunk of his career, LeBron James made the 6'3" Damon Jones feel a whole lot smaller following this ridiculous poster.
My only question is what was Jones thinking when he jumped?
Once again, it's the 6'3" Russell Westbrook taking flight in the lane, this time over the top of Shane Battier and a number of other unsuspecting Houston Rockets.
Something must be in the water because I don't remember any 6'3" players throwing down like this during the 1990's or any time before that.
All that needs to be said is Kevin Harlan's reaction: "We just saw a man fly!"
Somehow, Harlan always knows the words to say following an emphatic play.
At 7'6", Yao Ming has the benefit of being able to block just about any shot within 10 feet of him. While he does get his fair share of blocked shots, he also takes the risk of ending up on the wrong side of a poster from time to time.
This time, Kobe Bryant took advantage of the unsuspecting center by going baseline and finding just enough room to slam it over Yao.
Just when you think Andre Igudoala couldn't outdo himself again, he manages to complete a dunk like this off of a miss.
Maybe this is why the Philadelphia 76ers have kept him around for so long.
Shannon Brown decided to spice up his dunks a little more. As if he needed to, considering that he's 6'3" and has a higher vertical leap than nearly every other player in the league.
Still, there's nothing wrong with switching hands mid-flight before your throw down.
Kendrick Perkins had given the Miami Heat their fair share of problems. He was a big body in the paint that could bang with the Heat's forwards and centers while also providing the size to throw off the Heat's main driver in Dwyane Wade.
This time, Wade went up too fast for Perkins to react and he ended up on another one of Dwyane's posters.
You really need to improve your game when you're most memorable highlight is ending up on the wrong end of a poster.
Time to hit the gym, Anthony Tolliver.
Before we knew Dwight Howard as the man-child that he has become today, we knew him as a man-child in his rookie year. Howard wasn't as built as he is today, but he still possessed the athleticism that enabled him to be one of the NBA's top centers. When Kobe Bryant came soaring through the lane, Howard had no idea that he was attempting to take a charge from one of the league's best high flyers.
Maybe today, Howard would contest a Bryant dunk a little more. For now, though, we take a look at Dwight's past faults and Kobe's scary athleticism.
Once again, Kevin Harlan delivers the perfect call to one of the best dunks over the past decade.
The other announcer mentioning that Tracy McGrady is sleepy eyed, however, didn't help make this poster dunk any more ferocious than it already was.
Rookies aren't supposed to do this to veterans.
Amar'e Stoudemire doesn't care and he just did what millions of Los Angeles Clippers fans have probably wanted to do to Michael Olowokandi since they drafted him.
The Golden State Warriors run of 2007 was one of the most improbable in NBA history. As an eighth seed, the Warriors bested the No. 1-seeded, 67-win Dallas Mavericks and then pushed the Utah Jazz to six games in the conference semifinals.
Even though the Warriors lost, the series is most remembered for Baron Davis' unbelievable dunk over Andrei Kirilenko.
We can probably make an entire top 50 list on Blake Griffin's dunks alone. However, that wouldn't be fair to the rest of the NBA. Instead, we'll pick out a few of his best from his rookie season such as this unbelievable thrown down on Danilo Gallinari on the fast break.
And that was only his first year.
At 6'4", Dwyane Wade is one of the top dunkers for a player his size. Not only is he a quality dunker, but he's also one of the league's best at putting much taller players on posters.
His victim in this instance was the 6'11" Anderson Varejao, who was put on one of the most epic posters in NBA history.
One of the greatest dunkers the league has seen, Vince Carter decided to take his talents to South Beach and the top of Alonzo Mourning's head.
This trip to South Beach didn't cost the Miami Heat $115 million.
One of the top post season dunks of all time, Kobe Bryant threw down from an impossible angle on Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves. He took it baseline, jumped from outside the paint, went under the rim, and was somehow able to still throw it down while fading away from the rim.
To this day, Bryant continues to surprise us with what he can do when given an open lane, but he will never replicate what he did against the Wolves during the 2003 postseason.
Quite possibly the most insane dunk and alley-oop of our time, J.R. Smith absolutely shocked the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the rest of the NBA world when he completed a 360 alley-oop dunk.
We knew that Smith could fly, but we didn't actually know that he could literally fly.