Today, everyone always seems to care only about spectacular feats of athleticism when watching basketball. Nobody likes watching screen and rolls being executed, or backdoor layups; no, it's always about the exciting.
And of course, there is no play in basketball more exciting than the slam dunk. These are the guys the media and casual fans worship. The top 10 dunkers in the NBA are:
10. Vince Carter
A couple of years ago, the status as top dunker in the league wouldn't even be debated. Vince Carter was easily the best in the game, possibly one of the best the game had ever seen. Carter combined the finesse Michael Jordan displayed with a power that Jordan lacked.
These days, however, Carter rarely dunks the ball at all: He is much more likely to shoot a jumper than drive to the rim. So, he drops to number 10.
9. Baron Davis
It's always fun to see the little guy slam it home. Though Davis is only 6 feet 3 inches, he dunks with the best of them. Davis is ferocious when at the rim and displays no regard for human life.
He is an awesome finisher; just watching him slam one home against Andrei Kirilenko in the 2007 Western Conference Semifinals gives me chills. Believe me, this guy can dunk and he can dunk well.
8. Shaquille O'Neal
Another guy who is no longer in his dunking prime, Shaq has declined in terms of his dunking ability. He was once able to overpower every player he went up against and slam the basketball hard, often bringing backboards and shot clocks down with him. Though he can occasionally get a good one, Shaq is no longer able to bring it every night and so he slips down to No. 8.
7. Shawn Marion
Man, do I miss Marion running alongside Steve Nash. Back when he was in Phoenix, Shawn Marion would run the court almost every single play and, more often than not, would dunk the ball courtesy of Nash.
His incredible athleticism helped him elevate and finish, but Marion no longer seems to have what it takes to play like that anymore, probably because Miami runs far less.
6. Josh Smith
This was a tough one. I didn't want Smith to drop down this low, but the other guys in front of him are just so good. Smith is just like Marion, only an improvement. He dunks with more power than the Matrix, and he still runs the court every chance he gets. Smith is a fantastic dunker that can just bully big guys out of his way to finish, but because his dunks rely on others to set him up (like Marion) he stays at sixth.
5. Dwyane Wade
Watching Wade is one of my favorite things to do. His drives to the basket are so smooth, you're just speechless. Once at the cup, Wade will slam the ball with such grace that you'll still be speechless. The guy is a perfect combination of finesse and power, much like Vince Carter used to be. Though he still dunks quite often, he doesn't do it as often as he used to, so I'm a bit worried. I pray he doesn't turn out like Vince.
4. Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard, what am I going to do with you? You are a marvelous specimen; you may be the most athletic player in the league today. Your dunks are insanely powerful, but still smooth to watch.
You're a lot like a young Shaq, but you still have a ways to go. One request: You need to stop dunking it all the time. I want to see your post moves come to life, don't just throw it down.
3. Amar'e Stoudemire
Stoudemire is just fascinating. He has that same power that big guys do, but he is so much more agile than the rest of them. Watching him play is so nice, you can see him abuse people with his athleticism.
Though Stoudemire does have some of the best dunks around, he sometimes requires other people (Steve Nash) to set his dunks up for him. That slightly hurts, but not enough to drop him too far back. He's that good.
2. Jason Richardson
I may be a little biased here as a Suns fan, but it's true: Richardson is the second best dunker in the league. His deadly jumper allows him to blow by guys pressing up on him and throw down that ball hard.
He's so graceful around the basket, but when hacked he can still finish the play. He can also avoid contact and still twist his body into letting him dunk the ball. Watch J-Rich, he's amazing.
1. LeBron James
Are you freaking kidding me? Who else can dunk like LeBron James? He is the perfect dunker; I have never seen a player his size with his strength. James may be one of the strongest players in the league despite playing small forward.
His drives to the rim are vicious; you have no chance of blocking his dunk, and he will throw it down as hard as some of the big guys will. He is made for dunking.
So, there's my list. It was pretty close choosing between guys, so you all probably have different lists. Feel free to let me know, I'm eager to hear what you all think.