Posted by Ben Golliver, Matt Moore and Royce Young
Earlier this week, Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James and Los Angeles Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin treated the NBA worlrd to two of the best dunks you'll ever see.
James completedly hurdled Chicago Bulls point guard John Lucas III to finish a one-handed alley-oop pass from Heat guard Dwyane Wade. Griffin flew up and over Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins to throw down one of his power/speed/brute force specialties.
That got the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Staff thinking: What are the best dunks of all time? We kicked it around in a panel discussion.
So Griffin's abject demolition of Perkins and his dignity has set off a huge discussion of dunks this week. The big debate of course is how this one stacks up against Vince Carter over Frederic Weis. (Via YouTube user Supra2K8)
Everyone keeps coming back to the fact that he cleared a seven footer, which is obviously impressive. But for me, there are a number of things that make Griffin's RIPerkins better. Most importantly, Weis was trying to take the charge. Carter clears him (kind of, with some manipulation of Weis' head with his hand between his legs), but Weis isn't defending. On the other hand, Perkins is full-on trying to block, and if not block, foul Griffin. The dunk is a monumental clash of an elite shot challenger and the offensive player driving straight through his soul.
I always think a dunk being completed through a challenge is better than just dunking over a tall dude. If I wanted props I'd go to the dunk contest. That's why I tend to like this one as my second favorite of all time. (Via YouTube user DJNajeem)
I mean, come on, now. That's Anderson Varejao, an annual defensive player of the year candidate. Weis was a fine defender... but not at the NBA level. I'd still put Carter as the best dunker of all time (in-game, dunk contest, your mom's house, anywhere). But Griffin's abject annihilation of Perkins has to be considered the best. In a related story, Amar'e Stoudemire over Anthony Tolliver. (Via YouTube user TheBrosBros)
You know what dunk gets criminally overlooked? J.R. Smith's two-handed "We just saw a man fly!" finish over Gary Neal. Three things that make that dunk amazing: 1) It was with two hands 2) It was darn near a buzzer beater and 3) Kevin Harlan's call. (Via YouTube user Huff99)
See, I think that's the type of stuff that can distinguish one great dunk from another -- the little things. Because all dunks over someone are pretty incredible when you think about it. But the details like how good the call of it was, how the ball went through the net (was it a splashing flush or did it rattle in, like Griffin's?), who it was over, the significance of it and stuff like that.
On that, you've got to have Pippen's destruction over Patrick Ewing. It has all of the above. Great call, major significance and it was over a seven-footer. For my money, it's the best ever. I mean, that's a total humiliation of Ewing. Pippen took Ewing's manhood and disrespect his family tree. He didn't just dunk over Ewing, he dunked through him. (Via YouTube user Funk2Dunk)
One more that I have to mention is LeBron's over Kevin Garnett in the 2008 playoffs. "With no regard for human life!" might be the all-time best dunk call. And it was over KG, which is big time. (Via YouTube user Marszall87)
Reading your responses, I basically was just nodding continuously. I guess I'm not wired for the "Best Dunk" debate. I approach YouTube more like a wine collector approaches his cellar: collect all the greats, then keep collecting, then collect some more and then collect even more. I care more about experiencing all the greats than about ranking the cream of the crop.
Similarly, I'm partial to the classics. The first one that comes to mind when I think of a dunk is Michael Jordan over Ewing.(Via YouTube User ESPN)
This one just wraps up Jordan the offensive weapon so perfectly. Incredible handle, vision, instincts, quickness, power, fearlessness and total authority. The physicality at the end is just icing on a flawless cake.
You probably guessed that Julius Erving's cradle dunk over Michael Cooper would be next on my list. (Via YouTube user diegoris23)
It didn't quite have the man-on-man violence of some of these other dunks but the beauty is in how natural and in-the-flow this one came about. It was as if Dr. J was just walking down the street, saw a basketball lying on the ground, didn't even stop to bend over and picked it up, scooped it in rhythm and then tossed it on a very good defender's head in one brilliant, swooping motion. Iconic.
Last but not least, I think Kevin Durant's dunk over Brendan Haywood during the 2011 Playoffs will wind up standing up to the test of time. It's more recent than my other two picks but I predict massive staying powero on this one. (Via YouTube user NBA).
I see this as a future classic because Durant is on track for true greatness and because this dunk shows his amazing length, probably his most obvious stand out physical attribute. It shows his handle, his hops and his swagger. This will be the dunk that Durant enthusiasts point to in 30 years when detractors try to argue that Durant was "just a shooter" or that his slim frame held him back him from becoming a top-20 type of player. The extension on this one was amazing. The replays just make it better and better.