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Above the Rim


The game’s most spectacular dunks


For a long time, the holy grail of slam dunks has been thought to be the double between-the-legs dunk, otherwise known as the double eastbay. Recently however, professional dunk Jonathan Clark has shown that this feat is not beyond the human limit. In celebration of this notable accomplishment, we count the various ways dunkers have managed to entertain and electrify beyond simply putting the ball into the basket.


Eastbay: Once upon a time, the basic between-the-legs dunk was thought to be a top-tier slam, sufficiently impressive to earn the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest title for then-rookie Kobe Bryant. In the ensuing two decades however, dunkers have invented numerous variants, from Jason Richardson’s off-the-backboard eastbay to high schoolers today pulling off in-game 360-degree eastbays, topped off with Clark’s historic feat.


Spins & windmills: A beautiful dunk can resemble art more than sport, and nothing exemplifies this better than the circular trajectories of spinning dunks and windmill slams. The reverse dunk and 360 dunks have an aura of flair about them, but nothing tops the 720-degree dunk performed by renowned streetballer ‘Air Up There’.


Distance dunks: A special mention goes to the distance dunkers, who go for hang-time rather than pure vertical leap. Ever since Julius Erving dunked from the free throw line, basketball fans have been eagerly anticipating the transcendent athlete who could dunk from the three-point line. Although this has yet to be accomplished, NBA players such as James White and Zach Lavine have added their own touch to the dunk by combining it with variants such as windmills, eastbay and tomahawks.


Jumping over people: Although this is generally a ‘prop’ dunk reserved for contests, it has occasionally been performed in-game by freakish leapers, most notably Vince Carter leaping over Frederic Weis at the Olympics. More recently, Giannis Antetokounmpo also flew over Tim Hardaway Jr. on an alley-oop finish at Madison Square Garden.
 Power dunks & alley-oops: The last two categories are grouped together because they are often witnessed in game situations, rather than just in dunk contests. The power of the two-handed slam in the paint is at once functional and intimidating, while the alley-oop can showcase perfect coordination between two teammates.