The slam dunk is the most electrifying play in sports. The lead up, takeoff, execution, passion and athleticism all mix to create an explosion of kinetic energy. Much of basketball sneaker storytelling centers around the artistry of a dunk. MJ’s takeoff from the free-throw line, Vince Carter’s 2000 Olympics dunk and Nate Robinson’s drunk over Dwight Howard in the Dunk Contest serve as examples of how we associate shoes with moments (or moments with shoes). With that spirt in mind lets take a look back at some modern NBA dunk/ shoe combos that will withstand the test of time. When we look back 20 years from now we’ll remember these dunks and most of us will remember the footwear too, cheers!

1. LeBron on KG; May 12, 2008; Nike Soldier II

LeBron defines the term ‘with the hammer’ with this dunk on KG. This was vintage LeBron… give him the ball and get out the way. From the hesi’ to the finish 10/10.

2. LeBron on Damon Jones; February 2, 2005; Nike Air Zoom LeBron II

Poor Damon. Later on these two would become teammates and friends but during his second NBA season LBJ destroyed Jones. Damn LeBron, why you gotta do him like that?

3. Kobe on Yao; February 18, 2003; Jordan III Retro      ‘Kobe PE’

Two things make this dunk an all-time classic: 1) Kobe’s shoes are so hot they’re combustable. His ‘sneaker free agency’ resulted in PEs from every brand trying to land the Lakers star. 2) Yao Ming is 7 ft 6 in. Think about that then watch this video of Kobe meeting  Yao at the rim.

4. Kobe on Dwight Howard; November 12, 2004; Nike 2k4 Huarache PE

This would be known as Dwight Howard’s baptism, the rookie wasn’t thinking this would be his first NBA poster.

“Welcome to the league young fella.”
Kobe Bryant

5. T-Mac on Shawn Bradley; April 25, 2005; Adidas T-Mac 5

Shawn Bradley’s history of being dunked on is long, like everyone from the 2000’s dunked on Bradley. T-Mac’s dunk with “no regard for human life” is one of his top 5 highlights while playing with the Rockets.

6. Blake Griffin on Kendrick Perkins; January 30, 2012; Nike Hyperdunk 2011

Blake Griffin was catching bodies left and right early in his career. This dunk on Kendrick Perkins narrowly beat out his dunks on Mosgoff and Gasol; we selected this one because Kendrick is just such an angry defender; he must have been mad as hell after this play, but not as salty as our next dunk victim…

7. V.C. on Alonzo Mourning; November 7, 2005; Nike VC IV

Personally, this is my favorite NBA in-game dunk since 2000. Alonzo Mourning was a defensive beast, a tank in the pant. Vince was the league’s highest flyer and most creative dunker (maybe in league history). Vince put on a quick move on the perimeter to setup a clear lane to the hoop. Alonzo stepped up and initially had Vince beat… but then the bump happened… the bump! V.C. bumped off of ‘Zo and unleashed one of the most disrespectful dunks many have ever seen. Vince told ESPN that Alonzo wouldn’t talk to him for 6-7 years after this happened, wow.