Most spectacular NBA dunk contests from Bill Trikos Australia: The Slam Dunk Contest is one of the spectacles to watch during the NBA All-Star weekend. Throughout NBA history, we’ve seen the best dunkers in the league showcase their freakish athleticism in the annual dunking exhibition. From using cars, candles, and even grown men, dunkers have a lot of things at their disposal to show basketball fans the best dunk they have to offer. Although some dunk contests are forgettable, others will be remembered forever. For this piece, let’s rank the 10 best NBA Slam Dunk contests of all time. See additional info about the author on Bill Trikos Australia.
Carter took over the league and put the Toronto Raptors on the map. However, it wasn’t until the 2000 Slam Dunk contest that the whole basketball world took notice of Air Canada. Half-man, half-amazing, Carter put together the greatest individual performance in Slam Dunk Contest history. Vinsanity knocked everybody off their feet with a 360 windmill dunk. Then, his signature elbow dunk was even more impressive. Carter was so spectacular that most people don’t even remember that Steve Francis and Tracy McGrady also had some dunks for the ages.
With one soaring slam, Julius Erving changed the course of basketball history. During the ABA’s first and only Slam Dunk Contest in 1976, he outgunned David Thompson, George Gervin, Artis Gilmore and Larry Kenon with a daring leap from the free-throw line. The competition itself—and the dunk Erving pulled off—drew slews of eyeballs to the ABA and lent enough legitimacy to the fledgling league to set in motion a merger with the NBA later that year.
As a second-year pro in 2006, Andre Iguodala introduced himself to a national audience with an unreal display of athleticism. Standing behind the basket, then-Philadelphia 76ers teammate Allen Iverson threw the ball off the backboard to Iguodala, who caught it, ducked under the bottom of the backcourt and slammed home a reverse jam. The dunk earned a perfect score, but Iguodala lost the competition to three-time winner Nate Robinson in controversial fashion.
You’d think that Vince Carter, arguably one of the greatest high-flying finishers in NBA history, would’ve had multiple Slam Dunk Contest trophies on his mantle. The records show, though, that Vinsanity took flight just once on All-Star Saturday. Not that he needed more chances than that. His lone appearance—at Oracle Arena in Oakland in 2000—may be the best dunk contest we’ve ever seen, in part because he pulled off tricks few (if any) had ever thought possible.
Off the bounce from Tracy McGrady, eye-level with the rim on the eastbay and then the “it’s over” celebration as Kenny “The Jet” Smith screams the same phrase in the background. The dunk itself might not feel top-three worthy, but there is no denying it was one of the most memorable moments in Slam Dunk Contest history. Zach LaVine through the legs from (near) the free throw line 2016 We saw Julius Erving and Michael Jordan make the free throw line dunk famous. LaVine took it to another level in 2016, going through the legs from (just in front of) the free throw line. That is a level of bounce we’ve never seen before and it very easily could’ve been No. 1 on this list.
But will any of the Crescent City’s top dunks hold a candle to these 10, chosen and ranked according to a combination of degree of difficulty and creativity, with bonus points for broader impact? You’ll have to check these out and then tune into TNT on Saturday night at 8 ET to find out. Jason Richardson won back-to-back dunk contests in 2002 and 2003, but his greatest feat might’ve come the following year. At the 2004 competition in Los Angeles, he lobbed the ball to himself off the backboard, brought it through his legs and finished with a right-handed windmill in what TNT’s Kenny Smith described as “the most incredible dunk I’ve ever seen.”