NBA / May 19, 2011 / 12:00 pm

Top 10 NBA Playoff Dunks Of The 21st Century

The dunk may be the most efficient method for securing two points, but it has evolved into the most visible platform for pure power, unbridled enthusiasm and exuberant jubilation. In the grand scheme of basketball, one basket midway through the game does little to change the outcome. Yet we cannot help but celebrate the supreme athleticism of the dunker and the abject misery of the dunked-upon. But our love, however cruel it may be to witness for the defeated, is honest. It is why thousands upload these moments of sovereignty and humiliation to YouTube on a daily basis. When Taj Gibson posterized Dwyane Wade in Game 1, I was obligated to relive the past glory of other immortalized playoff dunks. Here are, in descending order, the Top 10 NBA Playoff Dunks of the 21st Century.

10. Tracy McGrady dunks on Mehmet Okur (First round, Game 1 – 2003)
Mehmet Okur once again proves why he belongs outside the three-point arc. That’s why part of me feels a twinge of sympathy for his appearance in the Tracy McGrady dunk parade.

9. LeBron James dunks on Kevin Garnett (Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 4 – 2008)
The in and out dribble leaves James Posey in the dust. Kevin Garnett blatantly attempts to shove him. But nothing will stop LeBron on this play. The dunk put the crowd into such a frenzy that Doc Rivers had to call a timeout.

8. Kobe Bryant dunks on Steve Nash (First Round, Game 2 – 2006)
“Hello Steve Nash’s face. My name is Kobe’s crotch.”

7. Kobe Bryant alley-oop to Shaq (Western Conference Finals, Game 7 – 2000)
In terms of playoff enormity, this dunk easily ranks at No. 1. But in my attempt to appreciate the art of the dunk, Shaq’s masterpiece was not all that worthy. One element, however, propels it to the seventh slot: just take a look where he catches the ball with his right hand. That’s right, it’s above the box. Only if he could still jump like that. Well, jump at all.

6. Tony Allen dunks on Antawn Jamison (Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 6 – 2008)
Tony Allen’s offensive game is a mystery wrapped in unintelligible code. Some days he and the basket go together like lamb and tuna fish, and other days you get gems like this. Check out the hang time as he waits for Antawn Jamison to descend before completing the ferocious slam. Quality video editing, might I add.

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  • http://recoverthegospel.com Eddie

    On the McGrady dunk, I just love how one of the players on the Houston Bench falls out on the floor after the dunk. Literally ROTFL…

  • bigdoggchad

    Baron over AK-47 should be #1.

  • JAY

    Baron over KG on the break, anyone?

  • JAY

    ^^ My bad, the B-Diddy over KG was during the regular season.

  • Celts Fan

    That Shaq one was an all-timer (figuring context) but year 2000 = last century (you count 1-100)

  • Celts Fan

    and I hated it, but Bron over KG was pretty epic. seems too low.

  • Kobe24

    What a joke to put taj at Number three

  • marcus the great

    i know it was waaaaaaay back in like ’97, but jordan got mutombo pretty good, back when nobody was dunkin on mutombo.

    pretty solid list though, i cant think of any playoff dunks that should be on here

  • LMNOP

    i feel like im always stickin up for Bradley, but c’mon, he was barely able to get round Yao on that play. Hes trippin, stumblin towards T-Mac who’s already built a head of steam. He did well to even challenge the shot.
    sick dunk, but Baron on AK47 was a straight up smash mouth monster jam.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Dylan Murphy

    It was definitely a hard choice between Baron and T-Mac. No doubt that both dunks are awesome. Baron’s celebration was pretty awesome as well.

  • cov

    the shaq dunk is the best. look at the moment in which it happened. That dunk sealed a western conference game 7 and lead the lakers to their first title of the decade. Bron in the east finals over detroit 2nd. b-diddy dunk is probably third.

    in the playoffs the moment, series, game, matters!!

  • cov

    t-mac loses points to me because EVERYBODY dunks on shawn bradley and they lost that series. It’s not like that’s such a great accomplishment. Check youtube for shawn bradley, you’ll find dozens of videos of people dunking on this dude, plus we all know t-mac was a prime time dunker.

    So take a guy that gets dunked on a lot with a high flyer who dunks on a lot of people and this is what you get. simple

  • Bizz

    The Baron over AK was #1 to me…the boom, the TV timeouts required, the crowd, technicals for taunting, the eliminating of Dallas, it was everything you wanted in a dunk to define a series.

  • Nyeme

    No Ray? Over Tmac? Over JO?

  • srb

    Bradley really played until 2005? I thought he was out in like 2002.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Austin Burton

    Any list with T-Mac on it twice (and rocking the #1 spot) is cool with me.

    I was trying to think of a Vince Carter dunk that could have made the list, but oddly enough, I don’t know if there are too many memorable VC playoff dunks. Same for Josh Smith.

  • LD

    the kobe to shaq dunk is so much better with Chick Hearn audio…

  • http://Www.lozzz.com LozZz

    BD should have number 1.

    Bradley didn’t even contest the shot, he just stumbled into T-Mac

  • dunkerzinc

    how about d-wade over varejao? that was the dunk of the 21st century!

  • AllDayEveryday

    nenes wasnt that special

  • 5850

    Celts Fan says:

    That Shaq one was an all-timer (figuring context) but year 2000 = last century (you count 1-100)

    No, starting point is “0”, so you’re count 0-99.
    For example, when you turn 10 years old, it’s the start of 11-th year of your life, i.e. start of the second decade of your life.

  • Jperiod

    Baron ate Andrei’s soul on that dunk.

  • b$

    was gonna say 2003 malik rose over mutombo could make the list, but the only replay i can find is on this mutombo retrospective that dosesn’t really do justice. in real time this came HARD. the video is a good watch, though

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtWfCvKeWc8

  • Ryan I.

    That Baron Davis dunk gets me every time. Nice list Dylan

  • Stunnaboy2K11

    T-Mac piggy baking on Bradley is just too sick to not put #1 even though Baron put up a hell of a fight.

    Bron over kg though is just too sick to not appreciate, even though it happened against my team.

  • KnicksFan

    Baron Davis over AK always gives me chills…the celebration alone was #1. The fan’s reaction after watching the replay was enough to make it #1.

  • Ian

    5850
    eh nope celts fan is right
    the 20th century goes from jan 1 , 1901 to dec 31 , 2000.
    the year counting didnt start at 0 it was year 1 thats why the 20th century was 1900s instead of 2000s.

  • Ian

    btw did anyone notice shaq ignoring kobes hand after the dunk?

  • http://www.dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @Ian — Yeah, that always makes me laugh. Shaq acted like he made that play by himself.

  • This_Will_Hurt

    Some of these dates look iffy. Think that Tony Allen dunk was last years 2010 Cavs team.

  • http://facebook.com/togstadlives Big Freeze

    That Baron Davis joint should be #1. It demoralized the Mavs. One of the most ruthless dunks ever.

    And I’m not sure that Nene dunk belongs at #5, or even on this list. It wasn’t that spectacular.

  • http://facebook.com/togstadlives Big Freeze

    I meant the Jazz. Even though the Jazz won that series. I’m dumb sometimes.

  • http://brokejumper.com/ brokejumper.com

    Taj Gibson dunks on Dwyane Wade should’ve been omitted or #10, #3 really and it only happened days ago?

  • Clayton

    how can d wades dunk over kg in last years first round not be on here? better than most of the dunks on this list