With the NBA Season a couple weeks underway, I was thinking about some of my favourite dunks from when I was a kid. The dunk is the most dominant move across all sports. While it may count the same as a regular basket, the athleticism and excitement of the play has the ability to re-energise your teammates, demoralise your opponent, and even make the opposing fans cheer for you. The dunk is so great that they’ve built a competition around it. When we were growing up, all of us waited for that day we could throw one down in the gym. This is why we stare in amazement at the gravity defying art of the dunk.
Here is my tribute to the best dunks of the 90s:
Shaq on Chris Dudley
When Shaq came into the league he redefined the Center position. This guy was huge and had the agility of a player half his size. This was also towards the end of the last great of era of Centers (Ewing, Olajuwon, Robinson) so Shaq became the most dominant big man of this time. Chris Dudley was just a scrappy white guy from Yale who happened to be tall and athletic enough to play in the NBA. This guy had no chance of stopping Shaq on the low post, but we didn’t think it was get this bad. Shaq took the feed pass and just backed him down before drop stepping and putting down one of the most vicious dunks in the history of the NBA. To make matters worse, while he’s hanging on the rim, he swings his legs and body directly into Dudley before straight up pushing him to the ground when he lands making Dudley look like the biggest chump in America. Dudley then picks himself up off the ground and throws the ball at Shaq before walking down the court to confront him. Somehow Shaq gets away with an obvious dick move and has Dudley looking like the ass. Well done Shaq.
Kevin Johnson over Hakeem Olajouwan
Ok. I admit I was a big KJ fan. I was always a fan of the tough little guys like him and John Starks. Kevin was a lot more smoother than Starks who was a much more physical player. KJ was also just a nice and cool dude which endeared him to the masses. This cat is actually the Mayor of Sacramento now. Everyone took a step back and thought “Damn… I didn’t know KJ could elevate like that”, after seeing this dunk. On the 2nd chance opportunity off a missed shot, the 6.1 Johanson just crammed it down the 7 foot Olajouwan hard enough that Hakeem had to back peddle all the way back to the bench, although part of that might have been out of shame.
Jordan on Mutumbo
This wasn’t one of those rim shattering dunks that makes you turn your head away from brutality. It was a finesse dunk that where Jordan barely touched the rim. During this time, Mutumbo had started to get over his awkwardness and develop into a top NBA center and was one of the top shot blockers of his era. He was also known for is arrogance protecting the rim and waving his finger whenever he rejected someone’s shit. In the video, you can see Mutumbo taunting Michael about him never dunking on him. Later in the season, it finally happened on a nice give and go with Luc Longley. When Jordan cut to the basket, Mutumbo had to come over to help from the weak side and was just a step too late. By the time he got his lanky ass there, Jordan was putting down one of his most memorable dunks and ending it with Mutumbo’s signature finger wave.
Vince Carter over Frederic Weis
Known as the “Dunk of Death”, this was a case of not so much dunking on someone, but straight up dunking over him. It almost looked like when you’re messing around with your baby cousin on the kiddie hoop. I remember the summer this happened. Everyone was already amazed with Vince Carter and he was already drawing the “next Jordan” comparisons when laid down this beauty on the poor Frenchmen. The play started with a ridiculous European style pass from France which Carter intercepted between mid court and the 3-point line giving him a nice run way to the goal. He then had a 4 on 1 break where he could have given the ball up to Gary Payton, Vin Baker, or Kevin Garnett. Instead he basically teabags Weis in one of basketball’s most incredible dunks. Even the French commentators are going buck wild. Rumour has it that because of this dunk, Weis was too ashamed to play in the NBA despite having been drafted.
Scottie Pippen on Patrick Ewing
This is one of my favourite dunks of all time due to the sheer brutalness of the dunk and the aftermath that ensued. You gotta love how Scottie just steps over Patrick and talks a bit of trash before going down the sideline and letting Spike Lee know whats up. You have to keep in mind this took place at the peak of the Bulls – Knicks rivalry when the Bulls were on the rise and the Knicks were still known for their physical play. In terms of drama, this one had it all.
You can follow DJ Extraordinaire, Food Lover, and Fan of the NBA, Akio Kawahito on Twitter at @Akio_DJ_ID