Some will hate this list. Others will love it. The rest won’t care either way.
It's been 70 years since Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) center Bob Kurland introduced the dunk to college basketball. With Valentine's Day and the NBA dunk contest approaching, we're celebrating our love of the dunk. This is just one attempt at compiling a list of the greatest dunks in NCAA history. Are there others that belong on this list? Probably. It’s all about perspective -- and the availability of footage.
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1. Send it in, Jerome Lane (1988)
Greatest Dunks: No. 1, 'Send It In, Jerome'
Bill Raftery immortalized Jerome Lane's thunderous, backboard-breaking dunk with his "Send it in, Jerome" call, and that dunk checks in at No. 1 on on our list of the greatest dunks ever.
“No one in the gym could process what happened.” Read that again. That’s what former Pitt guard Bobby Martin told ESPN.com in 2011 about this dunk. It changed things. Bill Raftery’s famous call. The ferociousness of it. What is often overlooked, however, is that Lane walked on air ... and then he shattered a backboard. This is the greatest dunk in college basketball history. No need to debate.
2. Jerry Stackhouse baseline vs. Duke (1995)
This was just crazy. First, Stack pulled this off in the Duke-North Carolina game. Type in Stackhouse’s name in YouTube and “Jerry Stackhouse dunk on Duke” will be the third result that pops up. Listen, Erik Meek should still be mad at Cherokee Parks for this one. Stackhouse goes by Parks, who acts like he’s going to commit the foul or try to cut him off before deciding “Imma let Meek get some of this nastiness,” and that’s exactly what happens.
3. Michael Jordan rocks the cradle (1984)
What folks miss in this one is the Maryland defender who “trips” as Jordan runs up the floor. “My shoelaces, Coach.” Sure. He didn’t want any part of this. Michael Jordan would have won the last five dunk contests with this maneuver, and he did it during a game. The tongue is out. His head is near the rim. And he was just messing around. That’s why you shouldn’t compare anyone to the G.O.A.T., kids.
4. Hakim Warrick on Texas (2003)
Why would you do this, Mr. Warrick? You won a national championship. You reached the NBA. But you had to destroy Royal Ivey in the Final Four on top of that? Was that necessary? Granted, the dunk was waved off due to flagrant maliciousness. Actually, it was an offensive foul call, which makes sense considering the embarrassment involved. But what about Ivey’s feelings? Wait ... has anyone seen Royal Ivey since Warrick dunked on him?
5. Vince Carter goes reverse on the break (1998)
You could make an entire list of Carter’s best dunks. He was a poet on the court, a freestyle rapper ready to do the things you couldn’t even do in video games back then. This particular smash against Virginia was a dunk contest-level performance. He didn’t have much time on the fast break, but Carter turned the finish into something spectacular. I’ll never forget the day Carter and the Toronto Raptors came to Milwaukee to face the Bucks. My buddy and I went to the game, and we still don’t understand what we witnessed. With Carter, as Jay Z says, it’s just different.
6. Darvin Ham breaks the backboard (1996)
I just remember throwing something in my living room. I didn’t know anything about Darvin Ham. Just another March Madness matchup, right? Nope. Ham caught the rebound and came through the lane like a wrecking ball. Here’s my issue with it. Antawn Jamison should have boxed out so this whole thing could have been avoided. Watch how Jamison flees the scene as Serge Zwikker is just left there all alone like “Guys? Guys?”
7. Al Thornton dunks on Wisconsin (2006)
Poor Greg Stiemsma. He was just a 6-foot-11, 245-pound youngster trying to defend the lane. That’s his job, after all. And when you’re that big, just standing there usually works. Folks are intimidated by your presence. Then you run into a guy like Al Thornton, and he jumps over you. You know the type. He was the kid who ripped the Fisher-Price rim off its foundation just to prove a point. He owes Stiemsma an apology for this.
8. Marcus Morris vs. Miami, Ohio (2011)
You think Marcus Morris cared about Antonio Ballard’s hopes and dreams when he dunked him into what Mike Tyson once called “bolivion”? I’ll answer that for you. He didn’t care. Still doesn’t care, I’m sure. Ballard was just stepping into the lane and attempting to draw a charge. That’s what coaches tell you to do. You know what question coaches don’t answer? WHAT’S A GROWN MAN SUPPOSED TO DO WHEN HE ENDS UP ON A POSTER? HUH? YouTube never forgets. Remember that, kids.
9. Dahntay Jones does pushups (2003)
You gotta give him credit. Nick VanderLaan was fighting in midair. He knows it’s coming. But he soon realizes he made a terrible mistake. He recognizes his error, however, as Jones is obliterating him. VanderLaan falls to the ground and watches Jones do pushups. He had to watch that. Jones was nasty with this one. The pushups were cool. Just don’t forget about the melancholy Virginia big man who had to deal with the other end of that madness.
10. Steve Francis behind-the-back (1999)
It’s sad to see some of the latest images of Francis. I don’t know who he is now, but I know who he was. Francis was a dunk artist. It’s not just the fact that he went around-the-back on this one. It’s how he rose AFTER he put the ball around his waist. This wasn’t abnormal for "The Franchise" in the late 1990s. A friend of mine told me I had to watch Maryland games to see some guy named Francis. After I saw this dunk, I understood.