Subjective lists are always controversial and large lists like Top 100s are usually a Top 20 followed by 30 picks which could all be #20 and then 40 great picks that come to mind and then 10 picks picked because you needed 100. That’s pretty much how I feel about NBA Countdown‘s Top 100 NBA Dunks of All-Time.
With the exception of very shocking #1 – which would go on my Top 20 Unappreciated Dunks list – the majority of top 20 picks would probably end up on our typical Best Dunks Ever list. Then you have a whole bunch of just great dunks and then there’s the 10th Kobe Bryant dunk that made me think the editor(s) ran out of dunks so they just went with a good dunk that they have already passed on a few times.
My biggest issue with lists is the criteria usually isn’t clear. When we say “top” or “best” dunks are we giving it more weight because of how difficult the dunk was or because of it’s impact on the game or because of it’s place in history. I’ll give you an example of what I mean.
At #82 we have one of the most memorable playoff dunks of all-time: John Starks dunking over a couple of Bulls (minus Michael Jordan if it’s a Topps basketball card). I’ve always said the dunk was overrated in terms of difficulty and it’s not even Starks’ nastiest looking dunk. But if you were watching the rival Knicks and Bulls play and saw this dunk live then you remember saying I can’t wait to talk about this play tomorrow at school or work.
#3 on the list is Gerald Wallace dunking on Boki Nachbar during the 3rd quarter of a very forgettable game between the Rockets and Kings. I agree it’s one of the prettiest dunks ever but if the criteria favored impact or being memorable then it probably doesn’t crack the top 50.
#40 on the list is Tracy McGrady’s dunk on Shawn Bradley. It’s nasty but not much nastier than Shaq’s dunk on Bradley (not on this list) or many other dunks on Bradley (also not on this list) but it was a playoff dunk and probably T-Mac’s most memorable dunk. So I could see how some would want this dunk higher.
Same with #62. Kevin Johnson’s baseline dunk on Hakeem is probably the most memorable dunk on The Dream, is Kevin Johnson’s most memorable dunk and it was in the playoffs. For me, this dunk makes the top 20.
Then you have a dunk like DeAndre Jordan over Brandon Knight at #5. The Clipppers were killing the Pistons by 20 in the first half so this dunk had very little importance to the game or NBA history. But the dunk went viral and probably generated more Memes than any other dunk in internet history. The dunk also gave us the DeAndre Stank Face.
So what about that controversial #1? Remember Kirk Snyder? Didn’t think so but a decade ago he destroyed Von Wafer with arguably the best dunk of the year. Unfortunately for Snyder he also found ways of destroying his life. In 2009, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity after being charged with aggravated burglary. Nothing else needs to be said about his personal life but I will say I think it’s insanity, or should I say Vinsanity, that Snyder has the #1 dunk of all-time.
My pick for the best dunk of all-time was #2 on this list and that’s Scottie Pippen’s disrespectful dunk over Patrick Ewing. It fit every possible criteria and remains the best dunk of Pippen’s career, the best dunk on Patrick Ewing and also the best dunk in Chicago Bulls’ history and the Bulls had another guy who was known for jumping.