The NBA All-Star Game is less than a week away, and Indianapolis is ready to host the 73rd annual star-studded event. LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo have been selected team captains for West and East respectively. Irrespective of how competitive the game might get in the reintroduced West vs East, players throwing dunks are one of the common occurrences in the All-Star Game.
NBA has seen some of the most legendary dunks in the dunk contests during the All-Star Weekend. However, the dunks in the All-Star Games have also given fans the highlights for a lifetime. From Julius Erving and Vince Carter to LeBron James and Michael Jordan, some of the greatest dunks left their mark in the NBA All-Star Game with their dunks.
With that in mind, here are the top five dunks in NBA All-Star Game history.
Ranking the 5 best dunks in NBA All-Star Game history
#5 Michael Jordan – 1991 NBA All-Star Game
Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player in NBA history. From mind to skills, he was built and born to play basketball and become a champion. Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dominated in the 1990s, winning a total of six NBA championships in that decade.
It was also the time when Jordan established himself as the best player in the world. Before Jordan won his maiden title in 1991, he appeared in the All-Star Game for the seventh time in his career.
On a play, Jordan took the ball around the half-court and just took one dribble for a thunderous dunk. What was impressive about the dunk was Jordan’s adjustment mid-air. While the first defender didn’t try to block MJ, it was James Worthy under the rim, who turned around and tried to block the Bulls star. MJ held the ball with both hands, tilted left mid-air, and hammered down a monster dunk.
#4 LeBron James – 2012 NBA All-Star Game
LeBron James recently broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record for most All-Star Game appearances in league history. He has a total of 20 All-Star Game appearances, ahead of Kareem, who had 19 before he retired from professional basketball. Since 2005, James has made the All-Star selection every single year.
In the beginning of the 2012 All-Star Game, Carmelo Anthony blocked a possible ally-oop. The ball landed in Derrick Rose’s hand, who was the highest vote-getter from the East that season, ahead of James. The LA Lakers star caught the pass, took a dribble and threw a casual 360 windmill dunk.
What was most impressive about the dunk was the fact that James had thrown a massive dunk with his left hand. The dunk was so electric that even the commentators were stunned.
#3 Julius Erving – 1983 NBA All-Star Game
In the 1983 All-Star Game, Julius Erving made his seventh All-Star appearance. Some of the notable names in the All-Star Game were Isaiah Thomas, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Moses Malone and Alex English.
In the sequence, Bird grabbed the defensive rebound and threw a one-handed pass to Erving, who was running on the fast break. Dr. J. caught the ball on the floor from a dribble pass. He took two dribbles and caught Artis Gilmore in front, ready to block him.
Erving took the jump and tilted his body to the right in the air and put Gilmore on the poster. He was also declared the MVP of the All-Star Game that season.
#2 Vince Carter – 2001 NBA All-Star Game
Vince Carter is arguably the greatest dunker in the league’s history. From the “360° windmill”, “honey dip” and “elbow in the rim” to “cookie jar”, he invented and displayed the pinnacle of mastery in dunks. There was a reason Vince Carter was named “Air Canada” by Toronto Raptors fans.
In case it wasn’t known, before Carter was flying for the legendary dunk in the 2001 NBA All-Star Game, he was being defended by none other than Kobe Bryant. In the second quarter, Carter took the ball to the left wing while Kobe was defending him.
He took a jab step and before Kobe could get back under control, Carter was gone. He took two dribbles with his left hand, took flight, turned 360 in the air and hammered the basket with the dunk. What was so amazing was the ease with which Carter threw the dunk.
#1 Julius Erving – 1977 NBA All-Star Game
Julius Erving is an easy pick for the list of the best dunkers in NBA history. Erving was mostly famous for the “Rock the Baby” dunk; Dr. J. has uncountable highlights in the NBA. In his signature dunk, the Philadelphia 76ers star had the style of cupping the ball between his wrist and the forearm. He then rocked the ball, slung the ball behind and threw his thunderous slam dunk.
One of the reasons that Dr. J.’s dunk in the 1977 All-Star Game stood out was because it was on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the GOATs in the NBA. In what became one of the legendary dunks in the NBA All-Star Game history, Dr. J. took the ball from the wing, took two dribbles and rose up high against Kareem.
Dr. J. was just 6-foot-7 and his dunk on Kareem, who was 7-foot-2, was nothing less than impossible. As the commentator said, Julius Erving had been waiting for that dunk since the beginning, and he got one.