Top 5 NBA In-Game Dunkers

Top 5 NBA In-Game Dunkers

#5 Michael Jordan

Credit: Sports Illustrated

• His Airness was not only a six-time NBA champion. MJ was a highflying dunk machine. Unlike others on this list, when Jordan dunked in a game, he was either trying to embarrass his opponent or he jawed to make sure his opponent knew his intentions. Jordan had an endless bag of tricks to get around a defender, and once he set his sights on the basket...look out below! 

No single athlete's jumping ability has had a greater impact on marketing or sports apparel than Michael Jordan. An iconic silhouette of Jordan mid-flight with his legs spread remains the logo for Jordan brand athletic apparel. The popular "Everybody wants to be like Mike" commercials, featured people from all walks of life that wanted to jump out of their shoes and attack the basket with  


#4 Dominique Wilkins

• The Human Highlight Film may not have shattered glass like Chocolate Thunder or Shaq, but his highflying act was just as dynamic. Nique didn't earn his nickname (Human Highlight Film) by chance. He was a walking highlight film on perpetual record. 

Hawk fastbreaks in the 80s brought Atlanta fans out of their seats. Nique was the master of the windmill dunk. Variations of this move are among the most imitated during games and slam dunk competitions.   


#3 Shawn Kemp

• Power thy name is Shawn Kemp!
Young basketball fans have only seen Russell Westbrook attack the rim with reckless abandon. But fans who remember the Sonics with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp remember Kemp's thunderous game jam sessions.

Kemp wasn't the most creative dunker. He wouldn't bring the house down with creativity. But he didn't need to. Kemp could bring the arena to its knees with his power. He was the original angry dunker. Every dunk appeared meant to send a message to defenders - "stay out of the way!"


#2 Vince Carter

• It's a bird, it's a's Vince Carter! Vince put more defenders on a poster than any player in NBA history. He could jump over you, through you, and Vince possessed the athleticism to jump around defenders while contorting his body to finish a dunk before hitting the ground.

The most famous in-game dunk came in the 2000 Olympics when Vince jumped over the 7 foot 2 inch French center Frederic Weis. To be clear, this was not the most famous Vince Carter dunk. This dunk was/is the most legendary dunk in basketball history, period.

Vince took off from just inside the key before leaping over Weis. Equally exciting as the dunk was the reaction of Carter's Team USA teammates. Their expression of shock and excitement said everything that needed to be said about the dunk - it was unbelievable. Seventeen years later and videos of the dunk don't do it justice. 


#1 Julius Erving

• The Doctor was the most prolific in-game dunker in any era. He was a skilled showman, knowing just when to take over a game and leave his imprint on the game via highflying acrobatics.

Trained ballerinas would struggle to pull off Dr. J's moves. Whether he was cuffing the basketball to 'rock the baby," jumping from the free throw line, double pumping a reverse slam, or winding up a one-handed windmill, Julius stole the show and made it look easy in the process. 

Dr. J had a combination of Chocolate Thunder's power with Dominque's finesse, and there will never be another. 

Honorable Mention

Darryl Dawkins


• Chocolate Thunder was the original glass breaker. Dawkins attacked the rim with a ferocity never seen before. We can trace the lineage of breakaway rims back to Dawkins' days of shattering glass. 

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