One-handed or two. Jumping off one foot or both. Kiss it, rattle it or hang from the rim with zero fucks given. There are a litany of ways to dunk, but that isn’t why it’s so important. The impact this high percentage two-point field goal has on the actual game at any given point during it is unrivaled.
The dunk is only worth two points, but it drums up a melting pot of emotions on the court and in the stands. Excitement, outrage, disrespect, intimidation, emasculation, motivation. Nothing feels as good as shitting on someone’s existence through a posterization. Nothing is as demoralizing as being posterized. Its a game-changer. Even before the game starts. Some of the greatest players in the NBA have been high-flying acrobats on the hardwood, creating some of the most spectacular highlights with rim-rattlers that will live in infamy. But there are players whose names will be forgotten, mere scribbles in a scorebook, who have provided us with lasting memories of a dunk that contorted our minds beyond comprehension to where incoherent questions like “how he do dat?” comes out of our gaping mouths.
The NCAA banned the dunk in 1968 because it was seen as an unfair advantage to Lew Alcindor’s UCLA Bruins, who had won the NCAA title the season before (the all-black starting five at UTEP slammed on Adolph Rupp’s all-white Kentucky team in the 1966 championship game, too.) Could you imagine the three-pointer getting banned because Kyle Korver was just too damn good at making them? Crossovers were banned because Allen Iverson okey-doked one too many defenders for the betterment of the league? Banning those player “advantages” would be ridiculous. But that ban didn’t last and in the 38 years since its return we have seen incredible advancements in human athleticism, a mixture of man’s velocity and force, that have led to some of sports all-time greatest feats.
Big men on guards who have no business jumping. Guards on big men who have no business getting dunked on. In traffic. In transition. On the baseline. In the middle. From the free throw line, even. So many ways to stake your claim with a slam. Jam. Yam. Punch. Bang out. Stuff. Whatever you want to call it, its significance has made it the most important field goal in basketball. And that’s reason enough for us to celebrate the dunk, in all its glory, all week long.