There are few things more enthralling and adrenaline-inducing than the art of the poster dunk. It may only be worth two points, but the feelings of awe and emotions of demoralization only seems to increase its worth. A dunk of such devastating magnitude could easily turn the tides of a game, switching momentum from one team to another.
You want to feel bad for some of the players who get dunked on, specifically those whose face truly emits embarrassment and degradation, but it’s the defender’s job to go up and contest shots, which is why they make as much as they do. You have to commend the likes of Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning for risking being on the opposite end of a highlight reel every game. Those are the real heroes, the ones willing to sacrifice their name in order to stop two points from happening. Instead, we take notice of how they were at the wrong end of a poster dunk… had they still been making posters of these dunks.
We salute you, defenders who aren’t afraid to get dunked on, but there aren’t many “Top 50 guys who are actually good defenders, but just got dunked on” lists, so we’ll compose a top 50 list of the league’s greatest poster dunks instead.
Only dunks from the All-Star Game were emitted in the creation of this list, meaning that preseason, Olympic and postseason dunks were all allowed. Also, as much as we want to find those videos of Julius Erving and Clyde Drexler doing what they do best, footage of their exploits are few and far between with some famous exceptions.
Still, that doesn’t diminish the accomplishments of these 50 dunks.
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50. Amar’e Stoudemire over Anthony Tolliver
Man, I miss this Amar’e Stoudemire. This was a time where Stoudemire was arguably one of the league’s top big men, leading the Phoenix Suns to championship-contention status, and making defenders get out of his way. Nowadays, Amar’e probably isn’t even on the court in the final three minutes of a game, especially a close one.
49. Vince Carter over Vlade Divac
How I long for the days where Vince Carter was a feared one-man wrecking crew who would single-handedly destroy teams, primarily the Toronto Raptors during his New Jersey Net days.
In this instance, Carter spins and slams over Vlade Divac, who immediately knew the mistake he made the second Vinsanity started to rise. Was there ever a point where defenders just realized they weren’t going to stop Vince Carter from a dunk once he committed to it?
48. Grant Hill over Alonzo Mourning
Miami got what they deserved for thinking Dan Majerle was going to actually defend Grant Hill, who used a crossover to get to the rim and put a full-fledged poster on Alonzo Mourning.
The dunk may not even be the most impressive part of the video, though. That crossover on Majerle gave me whiplash.
47. Rudy Gay over Luis Scola
If you had told me Luis Scola was defending Rudy Gay on the perimeter, I would have put it on this list for the potential of what was about to happen. Oh, and Dikembe Mutombo makes an appearance because it just wouldn’t be a poster without him.
46. LeBron James over James Johnson
I’ve been seeing posts and comments around the interweb of people who are bored with LeBron’s dunks because they’re always the same; usually a one-handed alley-oop off of a fast break.
You know why LeBron can’t ever put anybody on his poster? Because they move out of the way. Just look at his dunk over James Johnson as evidence why defenders would much rather move out of the way than try and contest a dunk by one of the strongest players in the NBA today.
45. Dominique Wilkins over the Bucks
Milwaukee threw three defenders at Dominique Wilkins and still couldn’t prevent him from adding them to his highlight reel.
One can only wonder how many dunks were missing from the careers of athletes such as Wilkins or Clyde Drexler or Julius Erving due to the lack of footage from those eras. Either way, we’re satisfied with what we have now.
44. Derrick Rose over Goran Dragic
Stacey King, do your thing.
43. Reggie Miller over the Nets
There are four defenders who attempt to stop Reggie Miller, the spindly shooter of the Indiana Pacers, from dunking at a crucial moment in Game 5 of their 2002 playoff series.
Oh, yeah, Reggie was 36 years old at the time, too.
42. Josh Smith over Steve Nash
It should have been a charge, but the officials were so impressed by how Josh Smith was able to pull it off that they just gave him the two points.
It certainly wasn’t the first time Nash was on the opposite end of a dunk that should have been called a charge.
41. Michael Jordan over Kelly Tripucka
At which point in the dunk did Kelly Tripucka realize that he’s Kelly Tripucka and the guy whose dunk he was contesting was Michael Jordan? My guess is around the point where Jordan’s groin sweat had been transferred to Tripucka’s back.
40. LeBron James over Tim Duncan
LeBron was in the air for so long that Tim Duncan thought to himself, “You know, this was probably a mistake. I should try something else besides standing here.”
Before he could get that last thought off, however, the damage had already been done.
39. Scottie Pippen over Charles Smith
Charles Smith really couldn’t catch any breaks playing against the Bulls, huh?
38. Shaquille O’Neal over Chris Dudley
Could you really blame Chris Dudley? I’m sure he’s not the first one whose been so frustrated with getting dunked on by Shaq that they wanted to throw a basketball at him in disgust.
Dudley actually had a long career that spanned 16 seasons and concluded with him averaging 6.2 rebounds for his career. Yet in those 16 years of basketball he played, the lone memory we have of him is getting dunked on by Shaq, getting pushed by Shaq, throwing a ball at Shaq, and then launching an expletive at him.
Chris Dudley’s family was probably watching. Have some respect, Shaq.
37. Ricky Davis over Steve Nash
Steve Nash will always have his MVPs, but Ricky Davis will always be able to say that he dunked on a player who would become an MVP a few years later.
So who really won the battle there?
36. Stromile Swift over Tyrus Thomas
There have been few slams as powerful and devastating as this dunk Stromile Swift punched in over Tyrus Thomas.
The former No. 2 pick didn’t accomplish much in his NBA career, aside from being the only NBA player named Stromile, but this dunk is impressive enough to at least remember his short-lived and disappointing career in somewhat of a positive light.
35. Kobe Bryant over Latrell Sprewell
The NBA will never be the same once Kobe Bryant retires. Soon all we will have are the countless memories left behind, as well as the infinite number of posterizations and all-around impressive slams documented and thankfully put on the Internet.
Also, I want Kevin Harlan to narrate my life. I want to hear “WITH NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE” when I wake up and when I go to sleep.
34. LeBron James over Kevin Garnett
Clearly LeBron James does not have any regard for human life. Just look at what he did to Cleveland.
33. Kobe Bryant over Yao Ming
It looks like Yao Ming’s NBA inexperience got the best of him here. The effort he instilled into stopping Kobe Bryant from dunking made it seem as if he had no idea what he was up against.
In time he would learn, but it still wouldn’t wipe away the pain from this baseline slam by Kobe.
32. Kevin Johnson over Hot Rod Williams
What’s Kevin Johnson doing hanging onto the rim? Can’t he see Hot Rod Williams is trying to give him a piggyback ride for that incredible dunk he just did?
31. Kobe Bryant over Ben Wallace
Dwight Howard should have learned from Ben Wallace: If you see Kobe Bryant streaking down the lane, you better do a lot more than just stand there and hope for the best.
This play may have actually changed Ben Wallace’s career. It happened extremely early on, while he was still a member of the Washington Wizards, and it may have led to him strongly challenging shots rather than hoping to take a charge.
It was so impressive that it happened in preseason almost two decades ago and we’re still stunned by how Kobe was able to send ‘Big Ben’ Wallace to the floor.
30. J.R. Smith over Gary Neal
There were many reactions generated from this unbelievable dunk from J.R. Smith, but “Ride ’em cowboy?” That was unexpected.
29. Baron Davis over Andrei Kirilenko
Many people don’t remember the Golden State Warriors actually lost their semifinals series with the Utah Jazz in five games. But this Baron Davis dunk over Andrei Kirilenko capped off what was a memorable 2007 postseason run for a Warriors team that went into the playoffs as an eight seed and upended the No. 1-seeded, 67-win Dallas Mavericks.
28. Chris Webber over Charles Barkley
This dunk only gives more reason for Chris Webber to be a permanent fixture on TNT again, just so the video department can show it at any moment they want to clown Charles Barkley.
Then again, I’m certainly not one to ask TNT from not showing that Barkley-Shaq “fight” over and over again.
27. (INSERT PLAYER) over Shawn Bradley
That’s not a typo that forgot to be edited. There have been so many poster dunks put on Shawn Bradley’s head that simply having one of those players wouldn’t do it justice.
Bradley was able to block plenty of shots, contrary to how many YouTube videos tell you otherwise, and finished his career averaging 2.5 blocks per game and even leading the league in blocks per in 1997.
But watching him get dunked on is so much more entertaining than watching a 7-6 player block some shots.
26. Dominique Wilkins over Larry Bird
Have you ever seen a Hall of Famer and one of the league’s greatest players look as mortal as Larry Bird does here in this dunk he allowed to Dominique Wilkins?
Bird has won several wars against Wilkins, but this particular battle clearly goes to the player who didn’t do a complete 360 in mid-air before crashing to earth.
25. Michael Jordan over Dikembe Mutombo
I don’t think Dikembe Mutombo planned out the whole finger-wagging thing after blocks too well. You can’t tell me we didn’t see every player who dunked on him mocking him with the same motion.
24. Amar’e Stoudemire over Michael Olowokandi
What else is there to say that Stephon Marbury‘s face hasn’t already?
23. Vince Carter over Tim Duncan
Vince Carter should have a warrant for crimes against humanity for the numerous cases of abuse he put on defenders throughout his career. Also, I’m pretty sure this entire list could be devoted to Vince Carter. Don’t blame him for taking up so much space, blame the defenders for continuing to assume they were capable of stopping Vince.
22. LeBron James over Damon Jones
I’m usually not the type to get excited over a larger player dunking on a smaller defender, but this slam from LeBron James over Damon Jones was too enthralling to pass up.
What was Damon thinking? He didn’t honestly think he was going to stop LeBron, did he? At least he made the right decision by joining Cleveland the following season.
21. Shaquille O’Neal over Kelvin Cato
Big men, especially at Shaq’s size, should not be capable of one-hopping their way into a dunk from beyond the dotted line.
Thankfully for Cato, the quality of the video is so bad that most NBA fans will never know it was him. If this had happened a few years later? His mug would be all over YouTube, looking like a fool.
20. Kobe Bryant over Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard isn’t the type of player to get posterized much and it all stems from this humbling slam by Kobe Bryant. Howard learned to either go up and block the shot or get out of the way. The last thing he’ll be doing now is standing and waiting while a freak athlete salivates at the opportunity to get an emphatic two points.
If we’ve learned anything about Kobe, you know he reminded Dwight of this dunk at least once per day.
19. Dwyane Wade over Kendrick Perkins
This was not Kendrick Perkins’ year, nor is this the article the one you want to read if you’re a fan of the former Boston Celtic and current Oklahoma City Thunder center.
Only a few weeks after being ferociously dunked on by Blake Griffin, Perkins is again the victim of a huge poster, this time at the hands of the much smaller Dwyane Wade.
Wade takes on three Thunder players in one sequence, crossing over James Harden and spinning around Serge Ibaka before his thunderous slam.
18. Blake Griffin over Kendrick Perkins
Seriously, Kendrick? You saw what happened to Timofey, so what are you thinking trying to go straight-up with Blake? I get it. It’s his job as a defender to go up and try to block shots at the rim. It’s why he’s getting paid the money he’s making. But couldn’t he just let this one slide?
17. Shawn Kemp over Chris Gatling
When was the last time you saw a player get dunked on so hard that they gave daps to the player who just put them on their highlight reel? At least Chris Gatling got the first block to set up the ferocious slam from The Reign Man.
16. Tracy McGrady over Shawn Bradley
You’ve seen the dunk enough, but have you seen Jon Barry on the sidelines getting into such hysterics that he falls to the ground and rolls over.
I doubt he was the only viewer of this dunk to have a similar reaction to Shawn Bradley’s worst poster, which is truly saying something.
15. Julius Erving over Bill Walton
For Game 6 of the NBA Finals, that is some really suspect fast-break defense being played by the Trail Blazers. Bill Walton was the only player who saw what was coming, yet even he could not defend it.
The Blazers would go on to secure the NBA title later in the same game, so at least Walton got that as a consolation prize after being on the opposite end of some Hall of Famer on Hall of Famer crime.
14. Vince Carter over Dikembe Mutombo
It was early in Vince’s career, so maybe Dikembe Mutombo didn’t realize what he was going up against when he tried to contest his dunk.
By far the most impressive part of the dunk is how it appears Carter continues to rise up, even after Mutombo had already jumped and began his descent.
13. Vince Carter over Alonzo Mourning
Alonzo Mourning is a very large man. He isn’t supposed to be moved in mid-air like Vince Carter does in this towering, powerful dunk over one of the game’s greatest shotblockers.
Mourning has never been the type to back down, thus why he’s on the opposite end of so many poster slams, but maybe he should have just let Vince Carter be Vince Carter.
12. Blake Griffin over Timofey Mozgov
It was the dunk that set off hundreds more just like it from the Los Angeles Clippers’ athletic power forward. Poor Timofey Mozgov certainly didn’t expect to be on the opposite end of one of the most epic poster dunks in NBA history when he tried taking a charge nearly five feet away from the rim.
What Mozgov did, however, was right for the game. It made every other defender completely aware of what Blake was capable of.
11. DeAndre Jordan over Brandon Knight
There were a few other worthy submissions for this list. Remember Corey Brewer over Derek Fisher? Or how about Harrison Barnes owning Nikola Pekovic? But seriously, even though this was an alley-oop, and even though Knight is only about 6-3, this is still one of the nastiest facials you’ll ever see ANYWHERE.
10. Dwyane Wade over Anderson Varejao
“I have to play with this guy.” – LeBron James, looking on as his teammate gets his head slammed into the stanchion.
9. Tom Chambers over Mark Jackson
I wonder if Mark Jackson yelled “MAMMA, THERE GOES THAT MAN!” when Tom Chambers was looking down at him from the top of the rim.
8. Kobe Bryant over Kevin Garnett
In his best Michael Jordan imitation yet, Kobe Bryant flew.
7. John Starks over the Bulls
Dear reader, I will leave you to decide whether Michael Jordan was a victim of posterization in John Starks’ memorable dunk over Horace Grant and the Chicago Bulls.
Starks and every Knicks fan will say yes. I’m guessing Jordan will say no, less he has a blemish on his pristine career that would diminish his accomplishment as the greatest player to ever step onto the hardwood.
C’mon Michael, you can’t just let New York have this one? You only ended their season five times.
6. Kevin Johnson over Hakeem Olajuwon
Before point guards like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose were shocking viewers and defenders with their astounding leaping ability, there was Kevin Johnson.
The 6-1 Johnson finished his career with a few All-NBA nods and a handful of All-Star Game appearances, but there will be no moment that sticks out more in his illustrious career than his famed dunk over one of the league’s greatest centers in Hakeem Olajuwon.
The dunk was so unexpected that the Suns bench reaction makes it seem like this is the first time they’ve ever seen Johnson throw down.
5. Shawn Kemp over Alton Lister
If Shawn Kemp had the reaction to this dunk in today’s game, he’d have been called for a technical foul and possibly fined. The ’90s were a different time, a better time for ridicule and demoralizing your opponent.
4. Scottie Pippen over Patrick Ewing
You choose your favorite part. Is it the dunk? Is it Scottie stepping over Patrick? Or is it Scottie sauntering his way towards an irate Spike Lee and mocking him?
3. Julius Erving over Michael Cooper
Did Michael Cooper not watch Julius Erving’s exploits from the ABA? Obviously not, otherwise he probably wouldn’t have tried to jump with Erving in a weak and futile attempt to stop one of the most memorable poster dunks in NBA history.
Only Dr. J could make a slam look so smooth. He dunked it as if Cooper wasn’t even there. Or even better, he dunked it as if he knew Cooper was there, but knew he wasn’t going to do anything about it.
2. Michael Jordan over Patrick Ewing
So much history, so much talent, so much Michael Jordan. Oh, and he’s still reminding Patrick Ewing about this dunk. Every single time they see each other.
1. Vince Carter over Frederic Weis
I don’t understand a lick of French, yet the commentary from those two announcers following Vince Carter’s dunk to end all dunks rivals that of any Kevin Harlan or Marv Albert exclamation.
If I were Frederic Weis, I’d have been ripping into the teammate who attempted the spinning behind-the-back pass that was intercepted by Carter and led to the dunk that ended my career as a human being.
Technically, this didn’t happen in an NBA game, but who is seriously complaining?
What do you think?
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