The 10 Best Street-Ball Dunkers You've Never Heard Of
The most exciting part of the game of basketball is, without a doubt, the dunk.
This list, however, is to expose some of the greatest lesser-known street dunkers in the world. Enjoy.
Hall of Fame 1: And1 Streetball
This list would not be complete without a shoutout to some of the most popular street-ballers in the world from the And1 Mixtape Tour.
And1's Streetball tour took flight in the late 1990s and eventually blossomed into a series on ESPN before producing a video game.
For a full history on the And1 Mixtape Tour and Streetball Tour, check out streetballin.net's piece here.
Hall of Fame 2: Ben Wilson: Chicago
"Magic Johnson with a jump shot."
Ben Wilson was the No. 1 high school basketball player in the country in 1984. After an incredible summer expressing basketball in a truly artistic form, he returned to Simeon High School in Chicago, where he was unfortunately gunned down in an altercation before school.
This almost-unbelievable tale is brilliantly depicted in ESPN's 30 for 30 film "Benji."
His work on the hardwood and blacktop is now described in a mythical sense—perhaps the only appropriate way to answer the many "what could have been?" questions.
Long live No. 25.
Hall of Fame 3: Team Flight Brothers
Team Flight Brothers is the premiere source for all things dunking.
Here is Flight Brothers' most popular dunker—5'9'' T-Dub. This ridiculous mixtape has reached over 15 million views on YouTube alone.
In DIME Magazine's "Top 25 Dunkers On The Planet," Austin Burton simply wrote "T-Dub does things many 6'6'' NBA athletes can't do."
Seeing as how I can barely dunk a doughnut into coffee at 6'3'', I'd say Burton's soft yet strong claim is completely accurate.
Lenny Cooke: Brooklyn, New York
Lenny Cooke was an absolute machine on the basketball court.
In fact, the 6'6'' Cooke was once ranked higher than LeBron James as a high school basketball player.
Unfortunately, it is well-documented that consecutive head-to-head matchups against Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James at an ABCD Camp in 2001 were the beginning of a dark turn for Cooke's life.
After beating Melo in the semifinals, Cook's squad squared off against LeBron for the championship.
Cooke, fresh off earning MVP honors at the ABCD camp the previous year, scored just nine points in the final game—which was capped with LeBron hitting a game-winning three over Cooke.
According to Cooke's mother, the future superstar fell victim to his newfound fame too early and never fully blossomed into the NBA superstar he was projected to be.
For more on this incredible story, check out Grantland's incredible documentary on Lenny Cooke and life as a high school basketball superstar.
James White: Washington, D.C.
James "Flight" White is most popular for this YouTube clip of throwing down a between-the-legs dunk from the free-throw line.
Flight continues to search for a role on an NBA squad, and his incredible journey is finally looking up after playing for the New York Knicks last season.
White is currently in his third stint with the NBA, which was interrupted by two separate trips to play professionally in Europe—all after playing for two separate teams in college (Florida, Cincinnati).
Herman Knowings: Harlem, NY
Herman Knowings, aka Helicopter, is one of the greatest pioneers in basketball history.
"Helicopter" frequently invented his own dunks, including the "double scoop with the cherry on top," which Alan Zweibel describes as "getting airborne between midcourt and the top of the key, make two complete revolutions representing both scoops of the sundae, then stuff the ball backward through the hoop—aka 'cherry on top.'"
Bernard King explained Helicopter's most popular story, where Knowings picks a quarter off the top of the backboard (13 feet in height).
Knowings passed away in 1980 at the untimely age of 37, so there is a shortage of footage today.
Billy Walker: Huntington, West Virginia
Billy "Sky" Walker was one of the most promising athletes in high school basketball history.
Nicknamed "Sky Walker" for his incredible dunking ability, Walker also flourished in the team aspect of the game and is the only player to ever attend the Adidas ABCD Camp three times.
Walker saw NBA minutes with the Knicks and Celtics, however, two separate ACL surgeries kept him from reaching basketball stardom.
Justin Graham: Ripon, Calif.
Meet Justin Graham, affectionally dubbed "White Guy" in this insane dunk clip.
The former San Jose State Spartan leads a fast break in a San Francisco Pro-Am game and slams what will forever be known as the "Monster Pizza" over two defenders.
Not a bad highlight for the grandson of former college and NBA great Neal Walk—the University of Florida's all-time rebounding leader and No. 2 overall draft pick behind the Great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
A closer dissection of the dunk shows that one of these poor defenders was future NBA star Aaron Gordon.
Graham polished off his college career at San Jose State as the University's all-time assist leader before playing professionally in Italy, and eventually Slovakia.
He is now a starting guard for the reigning champion, BK Inter Bratislava.
Ronnie Fields: Chicago
Chicago native Ronnie Fields was one of the most highly touted dunkers in high school basketball history.
After high school teammate Kevin Garnett graduated from Farragut Academy and was selected in the first round of the 1995 NBA draft, the same was expected for Fields, who had to finish out his senior season in 1996.
After suffering a near-paralyzing injury in a car accident on top of a run-in with the law, this once-prominent high school basketball star never made it to the NBA.
His full story is brilliantly illustrated in the documentary Bounce Back.
Earl Manigault: Harlem, New York
Earl "The Goat" Manigault was so popular on the streets of New York that Don Cheadle starred as Manigault in the HBO movie Rebound.
"The Goat" even had his own signature dunk called "The Double Dunk," where he would dunk the ball with one hand and then catch it with the other and dunk it again—all on the same single leap.
Manigault developed a heroin addiction and served two separate stints in prison for drug possession and robbery. However, despite his life taking a dark turn, "The Goat" returned to Harlem and started a basketball tournament aimed at keeping kids off drugs.
Demetrius Mitchell: Oakland, Calif.
"He was better than me, than Jason (Kidd), he was better than Antonio (Davis)—he was better than everybody."
—Gary Payton, NBA Hall of Fame point guard
Demetrius "Hook" Mitchell was one of the greatest streetball players in history, and NBA legends like Gary Payton, Jason Kidd and Brian Shaw aren't afraid to tell the world that.
Mitchell is best known for dunking over cars, despite being just 5'10''.
Despite incredible all-around basketball ability, "Hook" Mitchell fell into a drug- and crime-filled lifestyle that eventually landed him in prison.
He was released from prison in 2004 and now serves as head coach of a popular AAU basketball team in Oakland.
Taurian Fontenette: Hitchcock, Texas
Taurian Fontenette—aka "Air Up There," aka "Mr. 720," aka "Your Highness," aka you get the point—is a human highlight reel.
In fact, he is so dominant in his dunking abilities that Hoopmixtape.com released this video of Fontenette with the title "The Best Dunker In the World."
Fontenette starred on the And1 Mixtape Tour after three stints at the college level: UTEP, Richland Junior College and Paul Quinn College.
One of his many nicknames, "Mr. 720," came after he threw down this absolutely insane 720-degree dunk during an And1 streetball game.
Joe Hammond: Harlem, New York
When asked who the greatest street-ball player is, Joe "The Destroyer" Hammond calmly answers "I'd have to get a mirror."
Urban legend holds that Hammond once entered a game at halftime and finished with 50 points—against none other than "The Doctor," Julius Erving.
The New York street-ball scene was so popular at the time that Dr. J later explained that even scoring two points had far more serious benefits off the court.
Hammond was so well-known in the basketball world that the Los Angeles Lakers selected "The Destroyer" in the fifth round of the 1971 NBA draft because "Wilt Chamberlain told them to."
Hammond had it all, including a Muhammad Ali-esque nature for trash-talking.
Despite the gracious lobby attempt by Wilt Chamberlain, Hammond turned down the offer with the Lakers to remain making his living "off the court" and will forever be known as one of the greatest basketball players of all-time—regardless of the lack of NBA stats.