Read parts one, two and three of this series here. In ranking these champions, I want to completely exclude their overall skill as basketball players, and focus solely on their ability to dunk the basketball.
Also, I think era in which they were dunking in is very significant, as is height. With those parameters laid out, let me throw the second five names at you, in no particular order. Of these five, I will rank them by reader comments via Hoopsvibe.com, Facebook and private emails.
This group of five is easily the most stacked. So many studs, from different eras, with different dunking styles.
– Michael Jordan- 1987, 1988 Champion
“His Airness” redefined the slam dunk in a lot of ways. How much of his greatness can be attributed to the competition and equal skills of Dominique Wilkins? Jordan was the ultimate finesse dunker, “Nique” the ultimate power dunker. The one thing I have to argue against Jordan is the fact he used the “Free Throw Line Dunk” twice in two competitions to win both. And how much of his second title (over “Nique”) can be attributed to the fact it was at Chicago Stadium? To this day I think “Nique” got robbed.
– Dominique Wilkins- 1985, 1990 Champion
“Nique” to this day in my opinion is the most thunderous dunker I’ve ever seen. Just his sheer force, combined with his endless athleticism, is still unparalleled even to this day. You could argue VC, but “Nique” hit it with such passion, force and creativity, he may have been the most electrifying dunker ever. And if his buddy and teammate Sup Webb hadn’t stole the show in 1986, he would’ve been a three time winner when it meant something. The ultimate competitor, Wilkins and Jorda were the most perfect rivals ever to square off against each other, perhaps in any sport.
– Jason Richardson- 2002, 2003 Champion
A lot of people forget J-Rich won back to back Dunk Contests. Partially because of how gimmicky 2002 was- NBA legends spinning a giant wheel to determine what dunks the competitors would do? How lame. If there was ever a sign all the dunks had been created and executed, that was it. The 2002 reverse two hander off the bounce that Richardson pulled off was atletic as it was inventive. The only thing better than that was his between the legs, off hand, off the bounce dunk he did to win the 2003 contest.
– Blake Griffin- 2011 Champion
I read all the time how the 2011 Dunk Contest was “weak” in a lot of people’s minds. But was it weak, or is it because it’s so hard for competitors to come up with such imaginative dunks year after year? I will admit though,l something felt amiss during the contest- no matter what anyone else did, Griffin was going to win. It was at least the most commercialized, over blown final dunk ever- what’s that special about a 6-10 guy jumping over the hood of a car to dunk a ball? Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell certainly wasn’t impressed.
– Dwight Howard- 2008 Champion
Howard will never get the credit he deserves because he’s 6-11. It’s funny to think that Larry Nance was 6-10 and they’re such completely different dunkers. Howard’s “Superman Dunk”, which was essentially a dunk off an alley-oop from just inside the free throw line, may not have been the most technically sound dunk ever, but the ingenuity, theatrics and overall concept was what ensured him the victory.
So, which one of these guys is the best?