In honor of the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight, BallHyped.com takes a look back at the top 10 high flyers of our generation.
It’s a list of high-flying dunk videos that would make Yuri Gagarin, the Soviet pilot and cosmonaut who is being remembered today for being the first person to journey into outer space on April 12, 1961, proud.
10. Blake Griffin
Griffin is new to the scene, but he’s already a top 10 dunker in our eyes after all of his highlights this season, including his Slam Dunk Contest jam over a car.
9. Taurian Fontenete, AKA, “The Air Up There”
A streetball star, The Air Up There’s 720-degree slam, in a game, is one of the most jaw-dropping dunks you’ll ever see. Not bad for a 6-foot-2 guard who never got a sniff from the NBA or a major D1 college.
8. Michael “Wild Thing” Wilson
They say the former Globetrotter had a 55-inch vert, and with video like this, who’s going to dispute that? Now imagine how high he would have jumped if he wasn’t wearing Chuck Taylors.
7. Spud Webb
Before Nate Robinson, there was Spud Webb. All 5-foot-7 of him, with a vertical of 46 inches and an array of dunks that helped him win the 1986 dunk contest over teammate Dominique Wilkins.
6. Shawn Kemp
The Reign Man certainly brought the rain in Seattle, teaming up with Gary Payton to redefine the term “alley-oop” with NBA Jam-like dunks every night out with the team formerly known as the SuperSonics.
5. Dominique Wilkins
The “Human Highlight Film,” Dominique was a two-time Slam Dunk Champion who never failed the woo the crowd with his windmill throwdowns.
4. Julius Erving, AKA “Dr. J”
The godfather of the free-throw line slam, not to mention his infamous “rock the baby” jam, all of the above might never have happened if not for Dr. J.
3. LeBron James
Love him or hate him, King James attacks the rim harder than anyone in today’s game.
2. Vince Carter
He can go around you. He can go through you. He can go over you. Carter has literally dunked over people, so for that he’s up to No. 2 on our list.
1. Michael Jordan
But nobody beats Air Jordan himself. Said to have a vertical over 46 inches, Jordan defined an era with his high-flying, tongue-wagging dunks.