Top 10 Best Dunkers Of All Time

Last Updated on: 29th April 2024, 11:16 pm

Dunking is a skill that can electrify the game tempo and the fans.

Every player who plays and plays the game of basketball knows how powerful the slam dunk is.

Even the spectators who watch basketball know the power of the dunk and what it can bring to the game.

Player NameSignature DunkHeightTeamNotable Achievements
Tracy McGrady“Off the Backboard” dunk, “360” dunk6’8″Retired7x NBA All-Star, 2x NBA scoring champion
Blake Griffin“Mozgov” dunk, “Kia” dunk6’9″Brooklyn Nets6x NBA All-Star, 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner
Shaquille O’Neal“Rim Pull” dunk, “Two-Handed Power Dunk”7’1″Retired4x NBA Champion, 3x NBA Finals MVP, 15x NBA All-Star
LeBron James“Off the Backboard” dunk, “Tomahawk” dunk6’9″Los Angeles Lakers4x NBA Champion, 4x NBA MVP, 17x NBA All-Star
Kobe Bryant“Reverse 360” dunk, “Alley-oop” dunk6’6″Los Angeles Lakers5x NBA Champion, 2x NBA Finals MVP, 18x NBA All-Star
Dominique Wilkins“Windmill” dunk, “Double Pump” dunk6’8″Atlanta Hawks9x NBA All-Star, 1986 NBA scoring champion, 2x NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner
Shawn Kemp“Tomahawk” dunk, “Reverse Double Pump” dunk6’10”Seattle SuperSonics6x NBA All-Star, 1994 NBA All-Star Game MVP
Julius Erving“Rock the Baby” dunk, “Free Throw Line” dunk6’7″Philadelphia 76ers1x NBA Champion, 4x ABA MVP, 2x ABA Champion, 2x NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner
Michael Jordan“Jumpman” dunk, “Free Throw Line” dunk6’6″Chicago Bulls6x NBA Champion, 5x NBA MVP, 10x NBA scoring champion, 2x NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner
Vince Carter“Elbow Dunk,” “Honey Dip” dunk6’6″Toronto Raptors8x NBA All-Star, 1999 NBA Rookie of the Year, 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner

There have been many great dunkers over the years.

But who are the best dunkers of all time to play the game of basketball?

A list of the best dunkers of all time

What Does It Take to Be The Best Dunker Of All Time?

It takes more than being able to jump high and slam the ball through the net to be considered one of the greatest dunkers of all time.

To be on this list, you must have style, power, and dedication to the game…

Not just winning a few dunk contests and having a few posterizing dunks on your resume.

The dunker on the list is a mix of new school and old school. I suggest you watch the videos to get the full effect of the greatness these players bring to dunking.

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Let’s see who has the qualities and worthiness to make the top 10 list of best dunkers of all time…

1. Tracy McGrady

Also known as T-Mac, McGrady was a force to be reckoned with when coming down the lane…

He did not care who was under the rim; T-Mac was always determined to catch a body.

Tracy McGrady was the 9th overall pick in the 1st round of the NBA draft. The team that drafted him was the Toronto Raptors in 1997.

Unfortunately, McGrady never won a dunk contest, but in 2000, T-Mac helped bring back the dunk contest with his cousin Vince Carter.

One of the best dunk contests the NBA has ever seen…

The 2000 dunk contest was the only one McGrady completed, making him the best one and done Non-Champion in the NBA dunk contest history.

Now enjoy T-Mac’s top 10 dunks of his career…

2. Blake Griffin

One of the most powerful dunkers on the list…

Griffin made a name for himself, dunking on anyone under the rim.

Blake does not rely on his dunking ability because he added different elements to his game.

But he is responsible for some of the most electrifying and game-changing dunks in NBA history.

Being able to soar to the rim and being at eye level with the rim is not common for players of his size.

Griffin is so strong and has an unbelievably athletic ability that leads to some amazing in-game dunks.

Blake is no stranger to dunking on people; you can see some of his victims below…

3. Shaquille O’Neal

The biggest player on the list, O’Neal is 7’1 and 325 pounds…

Because of his size, O’Neal was a monster down low in the paint, and because of his athletic ability, he could dunk on and body anyone in the paint.

Shaquille O’Neal made a career dunking on people, which earned him names such as SHAQ and Superman.

In SHAQ’s younger days, he could throw down any dunk on any opponent, no matter if they had help.

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Superman is known for breaking a couple of backboards and making the hoop wobble after his monstrous dunks.

Not many players in NBA history can compete with the power SHAQ brought when he was determined to throw the ball down.

Don’t believe me?

Watch these unstoppable dunks of SAHQ below…

4. LeBron James

LeBron, also known as the “King” or the “Chosen one”, never participated in a dunk contest which is a little suspicious…

But it is undeniable that James is one of the greatest athletes to ever play in sports.

LeBron is in the debate of the greatest basketball player ever to play the game…

He has won nearly every award that the NBA can offer.

James has been known to shock the crowd with unbelievable dunks that seem to come out of nowhere.

The King could also jump over another player in an NBA game off an ally-oop.

James can constantly get his head above the rim no matter how long he has been in the game…

This can be seen as an inhuman ability.

Watch the King’s top 10 dunks from when he played for the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers…

5. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant was a dominant force in the NBA …

His dunks shocked the crowd every game especially in his # 8 playing days.

Bryant had a special kind of finesse and fire that showed on his dunks…

Kobe was not scared to go after anyone, leading to him dunking on some pretty big names throughout his career.

One of these big names was Yao Ming, who stood at 7’6.

In the later days of his career, his body started to break down, so we did not get to see as many eye-popping dunks…

But Kobe would still surprise now and then…

Kobe Bryant was a 1997 dunk contest champion, and with this, he won 5 NBA titles, two finals MVPs, and a league MVP, 2-time scoring champ, rookie of the year, 18-time all-star, 15 All-NBA, and was inducted into the 2020 Hall of Fame.

RIP Kobe Bryant: One of the best that ever played the game…

6. Dominique Wilkins

Also known as the “Human Highlight Reel” Wilkins dominated the NBA in the ’80s…

The windmill dunk would not be what it is today without Wilkins’s impact.

Winning two dunk contests in 1985 and 1990, Wilkins is certified to be on this list.

Josh Smith, the winner of the 2005 dunk contest, paid tribute to Wilkins by donning a throwback Wilkins jersey and throwing down a windmill.

It was always guaranteed that Wilkins would put on a show every night he stepped on the court…

Nique never failed to deliver eye-popping dunks with his unique aerial acrobatic ability.

If you do not know the “Human Highlight Reel,” Dominique Wilkins let me introduce you…

7. Shawn Kemp

Also known as “Reign Man” Kemp was a force to be reckoned with in the ’90s…

With his teammate Gary Payton they became one of the most exciting duos to watch.

Once Payton threw the ball toward the rim, Kemp was there to meet it and throw it down.

Shawn Kemp had a vast arsenal of posterizing dunks he would unleash on his opponents.

With his kind of power, hops, and length, it is easy to see how the “Reign Man” made the list.

8. Julius Erving

Julius “Dr. J.” Erving was an icon in the ’70s…

Erving had gravity-defying acrobatics and helped make dunking popular.

Without Julius Erving, the finesse style of dunking today would not be the same.

The doctor had the free throw line dunk before MJ did, Dr. J did this in the 1976 ABA Slam Dunk Contest…

Watching Erving float through the air, looking like he was defying gravity was a joy.

When Dr. J’s opponents would land, the Doctor would still be in the air for a magnificent acrobatic dunk or lay-in.

There is no question that Dr. J should be in the top 3 of this list.

9. Michael Jordan

Arguably the greatest who ever played the game, Jordan won back-to-back NBA dunk contests in 1987 and 1988.

Winning the dunk contest back in the day meant something because you had all-stars and superstars compete…

Like Julius Erving, Clyde Drexler, and Dominique Wilkins all in one dunk contest.

Jordan’s vertical jump and dunks are still discussed today, like his dunk on Patrick Ewing is unforgettable.

MJ was the one who made the free throw line dunk memorable while making dunking more mainstream in the NBA.

Michael put on a show with gravity-defying acrobatic moves every night he stepped on the court.

MJ has a determination in him and the fire for competing that made watching Jordan hard to forget.

There is a reason the MJ is nicknamed “Air Jordan” and “His Airness”.

10. Vince carter

Known as “Half Man Half Amazing”, Air Canada” and “Vinsanity” Carter had an amazing career full of unforgettable dunks.

One of Vince Carter‘s most memorable dunks is his jumping over a 7’2 center in the 2000 Olympics…

This dunk was named the “Dunk of Death” by the French.

“Air Canada” won the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest and revived the dying contest to something fans looked forward to.

Carter is the best in-game dunker the NBA has ever seen, doing dunks in-game that have only been seen in dunk contests.

Vinsanity had everything you wanted in a dunker: power, creativity, hops, and hang time.

There is no question why some people feel Vince Carter is the greatest dunker of all time…

If you do not think so, you must agree he is in the conversation.

Honorable Mentions

Some other notable dunkers who didn’t make the top 10 list but deserve recognition for their dunking abilities include:

What Is The Criteria For Being A Great Dunker?

The criteria for being a great dunker can vary depending on who you ask, but some common factors include athleticism, creativity, power, and style.

Great dunkers often jump high and far, execute difficult maneuvers, and finish with authority. They can also create memorable moments that leave a lasting impression on fans.

Some of the greatest dunkers in NBA history, such as Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, and Dominique Wilkins, are known for their ability to revolutionize dunking with their aerial acrobatics and iconic moments.

Other great dunkers, such as LeBron James and Dwight Howard, are known for their powerful and authoritative dunks.

Being a great dunker requires physical ability, creativity, and showmanship.

The Role of Dunk Contests

The role of dunk contests is to showcase the athleticism, creativity, and showmanship of the best dunkers in the world. Dunk contests are often held during All-Star Weekend and are a way for players to demonstrate their skills and entertain fans.

The first official dunk contest was held in 1976 by the American Basketball Association to sell more tickets and show off its talent1. Since then, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest has become an annual event that attracts millions of viewers worldwide.

Dunk contests are also a way for players to leave a lasting impression on fans and create memorable moments that will be discussed for years.

While some argue that the dunk contest has lost its cultural significance in recent years, it remains an important part of All-Star Weekend and a way for fans to see the best dunkers compete against each other.


Being able to fly through the air like these players is a dream for most people…

If you are willing to work, you can achieve a vertical as high as some of these players on the list…

As a basketball player, adding a high vertical to your game is beneficial.

If you want to increase your vertical, I suggest you check out our list of best vertical jump programs. If you want to see more dunkers, check out these best short dunkers.

In this article, we go over jump programs like Vert Shock and Jump Manual and which one will fit you the best.