No play in sports is as over-dramatized as the slam-dunk in the NBA. Besides the “Wow Factor” of a human being jumping nearly four feet in the air, sometimes over other people who are upwards of 7 feet tall is clearly remarkable. At the end of the day though, it still only produces two points. We see the replays of dunks by the games best like Lebron, Blake Griffin, and Dwight Howard, but their monster slams literally have nothing to do with the game itself. It is impossible to deny that slam-dunks sell tickets just like fighting sells tickets in Hockey; it has become part of the game, but for all intensive purposes the athletes that fight and dunk do it for the fans, not to win the game.
However, with the incredible slam dunks we have seen aired on ESPN’s Sports Center, seemingly on repeat, I thought it would be a proper time to distinguish who the best dunkers are in the NBA coinciding with their basketball ability. In my eyes, here are the five best dunkers in the league in no particular order: Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Lebron James, Derek Rose, and Dwayne Wade. It is arguable that other players such as Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant could be on this list as well, but their overall game is not prefaced on the dunk like the five above that were previously mentioned. All seven of the players are sure-fire all stars this year and will always be on Sport Center’s top ten plays, and can all easily win the league MVP at some point in their careers. The point I’m trying to make however is that the dunk really is not that important to the game itself. Yes, it puts fans in the seats, and causes our mouths to drop on ESPN, but it’s only two points, in the grand scheme of the game, it really is not that big of a deal.
This year above any other years in recent memory the NBA fan has enjoyed a plethora of unbelievable dunks. Lebron James jumped over and completely cleared the 5’10” Chicago Bulls back-up guard John Lucas III. Blake Griffin made the most athletic dunk over the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 7’0” center Kendrick Perkins that I have ever seen in a game. Although both of those plays were the “Play of the Night” on ESPN, neither of the plays was very important due to the fact that both of the dunks occurred in the third quarter of the game, well before the final score was decided. The over-dramatization of the slam-dunk is great for the NBA’s marketing office, but ultimately the dunk really is not that important. I don’t mean to sound so sinister, but most “Old School” basketball fans would agree that freakish athleticism could only get a player so far. Slam dunks do not translate into NBA Championships, just ask guys like Lebron James and Dwight Howard about that. Personally, I will continue to be in awe by the unbelievable athleticism that attributes to the slam-dunk. But, at the end of the day, it is only two points, and dunks don’t win championships, and neither does an individual players’ athletic talent, teams do.