DunksWhen it comes to basketball, perhaps there’s no more exciting moment than when a player seemingly flies through the skies and jams the ball through the rim. Whether it’s warm-ups, in-game, or at the dunk contest, whenever a slam dunk happens, the crowd goes wild. Ever since the original good doctor, one Julius “Dr. J.” Erving popularized the slam dunk in the 1970s, the slam dunk has been a critical component of a basketball fan’s DNA.

Not to knock soccer’s bicycle kick, football’s hail mary, hockey’s one timers, or baseball’s grand slam, stealing of home base, or inside the park home run, but for this Scholar’s money, give me a slam dunk any day of the week. With that said, to celebrate the return of the NBA season, here’s a by no means exhaustive look at some of our favorite dunks and dunkers in NBA history. Note that these aren’t ranked in any particular order because, c’mon, what’s the point!?!?!? They’re all fantastic dunks. Picking a favorite dunk is like picking a favorite emcee or Hip Hop song, it changes every day depending on a variety of factors and more often than not becomes a futile exercise. For the sake of this post, let’s just revel in the beauty of all these dunks. It’s more fun that way. 😉

First up, showing some love to our hometown Boston Celtics, Dee Brown’s no look dunk from the 1991 Slam Dunk Contest. Who can forget the crowd going wild as Dee Brown opened up the dunk contest by pumping up his Reebok Pump sneakers and then proceeding to blow away the competition that year, soaring his way to a dunk contest victory over Shawn Kemp in the final round? A thing of beauty indeed. BOSTON STAND UP!

Next up, His Airness himself, Michael Jordan with his infamous 1991 Playoffs posterizing of Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks. Truth be told, there’s not enough server space in the world to compile a video list of all of MJ’s impressive dunks, so we’ll stick to a couple. This particular dunk is awesome because it came in the playoffs in the midst of the heated Bulls Knicks rivalry of the early 90s and it combined grace with power as Jordan uses a spin move to juke a couple of defenders, takes off, and booms the rock through the rim in Patrick Ewing’s grill. Salutes to the GOAT.

Another MJ dunk continues our list. This one is from the 1987 Slam Dunk Contest and is often called the “Kiss The Rim” dunk. The hangtime on this jam is impressive, as is the sheer grace and style of his flight, body movements, and finish at the rim. To call this dunk amazing is grossly understating it. Let’s reminisce and enjoy.

No dunk compilation can be complete without at least one dunk from Vince Carter, the man I personally consider to be the greatest dunker of all time. I know, I know, how could anyone but MJ be fitting of this title? Hey listen, I love Jordan’s dunking ability, but for my money, when you consider Vince’s 2000 dunk contest, the bevvy of amazing, rim-rocking in-game dunks he’s had over his career, his hangtime (comparable to, if not better than MJ’s), and the sheer power of his dunking style, maybe it’s personal preference, but my nod goes to the man once known as Air Canada. Oh yeah, and if none of that convinces you (and I know there’ll be some trolls – tweet me: @Scholar_JPL and/or @JPLime), how can anyone POSSIBLY argue against this next dunk from the 2000 Sydney Olympics. I mean, c’mon people, he jumped over a 7-footer in-game for the slam! I repeat. HE JUMPED OVER A 7-FOOTER IN-GAME FOR THE SLAM! That’s balls to face over a legitimately sized center for the dunk… in a game… not practice… the actual game… c’mon son. Let’s take a look.

And who could forget these gems from the aforementioned 2000 Dunk Contest. How about an entire arm through the rim?

And what about his opening dunk of the night? Carter’s 360 Windmill slam effectively ended the competition before it really got going. MJ may be the GOAT, but again, for my money, Vince is the GDOAT.