Everyone loves the NBA playoffs. Even fans who complain about the attitude of the players and whine about their millon dollar salaries find themselves captivated by the intensity of the action. When the action rachets so too does the scrutiny. Legacies are defined and the fate of players are forever sealed during the 16 team tournament.
It is only fitting that some of the greatest assaults on the rim came courtesy of playoff basketball. I tried to factor in the magnitude of the game and contrast that with the caliber of player that was dunked on. So obviously dunking on a great shot blocker is a more noteworthy accomplishment than dunking on a back up small forward. This was a hard list to narrow down, so I know many of you will bring up many other dunks, but once again I could only name the top 11.
To the list:
1. Scottie Pippen over Patrick Ewing:
I despise Scottie Pippen but there is no denying that this is one of the greatest plays, let alone dunks in NBA history. Considering the rivalry that had brewed over 3 seasons of meeting in the playoffs, the physical nature of the games and the Hall of Fame player he dunked over, this had to be number 1.
The fact that Pippen finished the dunk by standing over the defeated Ewing and then telling famed filmmaker and resident Knick super fan Spike Lee to STFU and sit down was the perfect bow up on top.
2. Kevin Johnson over Hakeem Olajuwon:
Although he is now the mayor of Sacramento and is doing his best to keep his hometown Kings in Sactown, he was one of the most explosive point guards of his era. You have to put this dunk into context. Olajuwon had up to that point, 8 blocked shots and he had changed countless others. So KJ had enough of the tear drop and double pump attempts, he took the fire to the dragon. It was one of the most memorable dunks in playoff history. Yes that is current TNT analyst Kenny the Jet Smith with an S Curl whom KJ drives around.
3. Baron Davis over AK47:
This was the jump up and text all your friends type dunk. Baron went around Deron Williams with ease and exploded to the rim with the vengeance of Nat Turner. The funniest thing about the clip to me is Baron showing off his girdle. That moment to me exemplified his entire career. Such vast athletic brilliance wasted by a beer gut.
4. Dr J over Michael Cooper/Bill Walton:
Your favorite player’s favorite player. Dr J, the original arial wizard in NBA history rightfully gets multiple dunks. Look here as he soars over defensive stalwart Michael Cooper and Luke Walton’s father, legendary dead head Bill Walton. Bill was probably so high he doesn’t even remember this play. There was another incredible dunk he had against Portland in the finals that I couldn’t find.
5. Michael Jordan over Pat Ewing
This is the only time on any list you will see Scottie Pippen’s name above Michael’s. Long before MJ was rocking a Hitler mustache and sporting pleated Jeans he was the single baddest man on the planet. Look here as he reverse spin dribbles on two Knick defenders and then kiss the rim dunks (with his elbow) all over poor Patrick Ewing. Respect.
6. Shawn Kemp over Alton Lister:
Long before he was a sperm donator and contestant on Celebrity Biggest Loser, Shawn Kemp defied gravity. Blake Griffin and Amare Stoudimire are just following in the footsteps of the Reign Man. Look how he cups the ball and dunks on his way down, then gives Lister the pointers. Kemp would have been thrown out of the game in todays hyper sensitive NBA. Chris Mullin smartly never even contemplated trying to take that charge.
7. T Mac over Shawn Bradley:
While he never reached his vast potential, there is no denying T mac’s enormous talent. Here he goes baseline and engulfs resident poster victim 7’6 Shawn Bradley. Plays like this make you mad that he never seemingly wanted to be as great as we all thought he could be.
8.John Starks over the Bulls:
The shocking thing about this dunk was Starks was a new player on the scene. Pat Riley is notorious for finding gems from the CBA/D League like Anthony Mason and Bruce Bowen just to name a few. Starks may have been his greatest find. The explosive (in more ways than one) shooting guard from Tulsa, Oklahoma, announced his presence on the scene with a left handed kiss the rim dunk over two Bull players including his airness (sorta).
9.Clyde Drexler over Bill Cartwright:
Clyde was one of the highest flyers the NBA has ever seen. I would compare him to D Wade in many ways. On this play he took one hop step and exploded over Bill Cartwright in the NBA finals. Portland ultimately went on to lose to the Bulls, but CLyde left his mark. Thankfully for “The Glide” Twitter did not exist in his playing day because his hairline would have been a trending topic for 6 months.
10. Grant Hill over Alonzo Mourning:
This dunk may shock some people. You see Grant as the old man jogging up and down the court and you instantly think of his fins ass wife Tamia. Me too. But long before his 3,247 foot surgeries Grant was one of the 5 best players in the world. Right before this play he and the always angry Alonzo Mourning (think Kendrick Perkins’s uncle) had to be separated at mid court after exchanging pleasantries. So this dunk was extra special for Grant as he got the final word by serving up some chin nuts on Alonzo.
11. Kevin Durant over Brendan Haywood:
Just last season the 3 time scoring champ took flight over the lead footed Haywood and threw down all over him and his immediate family. I think this dunk gave Durant confidence in attacking the rim, because this season he has posterized more players than he did in his previous 4 seasons combined.
11.5 Kobe over Steve Nash:
Nash may have won league MVP but Kobe left no doubt who was king of the court as Nash foolishly tried to draw a charge. Kobe literally teabagged Nash on this dunk.
Vince Carter didn’t make the list. That’s some what of a microcosm of his career, few of his best moments actually occurred in the post season.