The Thrown is Up For Grabs

5 11 2009

by: christow

The King

The crown sits on top of Air Canada eternally for me. No one, none of the highlights I can muster up have changed my mind that Vince Carter was and is the greatest dunker of all time. He took Mike’s style, Dominque’s power, and Dr. J’s finesse and made it his own. From 1999 to 2002 there was not a night on Sportscenter that did not chronicle another highlight clip to add to his resume, he made those NBA Live dunks come to life. What separated Vince from the likes was his determination to dunk on anyone and anything in front of him. You could throw a giraffe in the key and Vince Carter will make it his mission to posterize it.

Let’s refresh your memory.

If you can’t watch 7 minutes of highlights, I suggest just watching the last minute, it’ll be the best minute of your day.

Dr. J established the dunk as a viable way to score two points, Jordan revolutionized the art of dunking, and Vince Carter conquered the dunk.

I believe we are in a very dry state of high flyers in today’s game. There isn’t one name that comes up to the question of, who is the best dunker today? Here is a brief list of the players who could possibly hold that crown.

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Similar to Dominique Wilkins, Josh Smith has the meanest windmill in the game right now. At 6’9 he has no problems getting up there, but what he lacks is the flair and the consistency. He already won the dunk contest back in 2005, but he really has not made himself a household name yet. He makes LeBron’s cockback dunk look elementary, but Smith simply doesn’t dunk on people. He has all the freakish athleticism to fit the mold, but when you watch his highlights, he remains just a fast break open court dunker.

J.R. and Nate

J.R. Smith and Nate Robinson

6’6 is the magic number for a dunker. Just tall enough to pull off amazing look dunks without making it look too easy because you’re already tall, and not too short to be able to pull those amazing looking dunks that are great because they are great and not because the dunker was small.

Michael Jordan (6’6)
Kobe Bryant (6’6)
Vince Carter (6’6)
Clyde Drexler (6’7)
Julius Erving (6’7)
Harold Miner (6’5)
J.R. Rider (6’5)

I had high hopes for J.R. Smith when he entered the dunk contest a few years ago. Everyone talked about how this guy was a high flyer, a leaper, a dunker. Because he played on the Hornets and didn’t receive much playing time, I figured he’s just getting used to the league. The 2005 dunk contest was his opportunity to prove the hype right (or wrong). So on the main stage he delivered the behind the back dunk. On paper and through word of mouth this sounds like a dope dunk that really hadn’t been done yet.

But he missed his first try. The hype bubble burst, the flair was gone, we knew what was coming. And really the approach he took for the behind the back dunk just didn’t look cool. Why not go behind the back on the baseline and end up on the other side for the flush? Since he appearance in the dunk contest J.R. has shown glimpses of becoming a great player, but just hasn’t put it all together to be a complete player. In fact, today he is known more for his 3-point ability more so than his high flying acrobatics. Sorry J.R. I guess 6’6 wasn’t a lucky number for you.

As for Nasty Nate? Anyone who watched this little guy run things with Brandon Roy in Washington knew this kid could get up. Gary Coleman with hops?!? He had that (for lack of a better word) swag, that little train that could. He brought out Spud Webb (he should have lined up Muggsy Bogues and Earl Boykins too) and showed the world he was serious. I won’t lie, KrypotNate earned the his crown in 2006 (and arguably in 2008).

But the problem for Nate, which he showed in the most recent dunk contest, is being a short dunker limits your ability to be a creative dunker. A short dunker’s biggest attribute is his height. Normal dunks look cooler because they aren’t supposed to be done by someone under 6’0. Nate simply doesn’t get the opportunity (and realistically) can’t dunk over someone like Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, or Shaq in a real live game. Nate earned his dunking legend but just like Spud Webb, he is more of a slam dunk legend than anything else.

King James

Lebron James

It’s pretty simple why Lebron James would be on this list. He is the most freakish athlete I have ever seen. At 6’8 he is as strong as a linebacker but moves like a wide-receiver, on the basketball court. Out of every player in the NBA, LeBron beats the rim down the hardest. Every dunk the insurance company on the hoop holds their breath.

The problem? LeBron has ZERO creativity when it comes to dunking the ball. This the real reason why we haven’t seen LeBron in a dunk contest the past few years. His signature dunk is bringing his arm back as far as he can with one arm. He’ll sometimes throw his off hand on his head, you know for style. I guess well you are built like a Ford F250 you won’t be able to make the turns like a BMW. But this is why I cannot consider LeBron the best dunker today, because the excitement only on how hard he will dunk, and not how he will dunk the ball. You got time kid, in fact since you mentioned you will be in this year’s dunk contest, you have 4 months.

Dwight

Dwight Howard

Dwight has all the tools to destroy every hoop he touches. He is 7’0 and built like an armored Hummer (the army version). But have you seen Dwight dunking the ball in a game?

Jaw-Dropping? Not really. Dwight can jump for a big man but he doesn’t SLAM the ball. He treats the hoop like he treats the NBA media, with smiles and high fives. Hang on the rim Dwight, scream a little, put some fear into the groundskeeping crew that they will have to roll out a new hoop this season.

Dwight should be the best dunker in the game. Think about it, if Vince can dunk on people at 6’6, Dwight should be able to serve up every single player in the NBA. So I suggest Dwight to watch every single clip of Shaq and Amare Stoudamire. They treated the hoop like a a Piñata with gold bars in it.

Get it Dwight?

So the question is, who is the best dunker in the NBA right now?

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Bonus

James White

Probably the most fun dunker I have seen since Vince. His problem? He can’t find a home in the NBA. Can’t someone just keep him around long enough so he can be eligible for the dunk contest?

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One response

8 11 2009
jacob wasag

i long for the day someone takes the crown from vince

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