Saturday, May 21, 2011
The Five: Top dunks of the year
By Greg Payne
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesAll season, the Boston Celtics had a reputation as a tired, aging team. And while age might have caught up to them at points during the postseason, Boston shrugged off Father Time at enough junctures to throw down the following five vicious dunks, which were some of the best the season had to offer (click the title to see a YouTube video of the jam):
Amazingly, this Paul Pierce dunk didn't even make our list of top slams.
* KG dunks on Turiaf
Health-wise, it was a bounce-back year for Kevin Garnett. The early reports out of training camp in October claimed he had his explosiveness back, and dunks like the one seen below are proof of that. In the third meeting between the Celtics and Knicks this past season (also known as The Blood Game), Garnett intercepted a Chauncey Billups pass, quickly got the ball in the hands of Rajon Rondo, and took off. Garnett sprinted down the middle of the floor, with only Ronny Turiaf standing in his way. Rondo shoveled a pass to Garnett from the right side, and Garnett skied up from beyond the restricted circle and threw down this vicious right-handed slam over Turiaf.
* Pierce crosses up Maggette, throws down
Paul Pierce went on a dunking tear this past season, throwing them down with what seemed like more frequency than ever before. The best part was most weren't your average ho-hum dunks around the rim. Most either came in transition or began with Pierce attacking the rim from outside the 3-point arc. Take the one below against the Milwaukee Bucks for example. With the Celtics moving ahead in transition, Pierce receives the ball from Rondo on the right side of the floor, takes two dribbles before unleashing a lethal between-the-legs crossover dribble that twists Corey Maggette around like a pretzel, then advances into the lane, switches back to his right hand, and leaps up for the loud one-handed throw-down.
* Shaq obliterates Foster
Believe it or not, at one point during the season, Shaquille O'Neal was capable of doing things like what you see in the clip above. Being nearly 39 years old didn't stop Shaq from rising up from the left block and ferociously throwing down Paul Pierce's lob pass with his right hand -- essentially on the head of the poor Jeff Foster. It was one of O'Neal's finest highlights of the season, and it makes you wonder what could have happened had he been capable of doing things like that a few weeks ago.
* Rondo posterizes Bosh, Heat
Rajon Rondo's lauded for his blazing speed and quickness, but let's not forget that he also has some serious hops he can fall back on when need be. Just ask Chris Bosh. Or, don't, actually, seeing as Bosh wanted nothing to do with with Rondo in the clip. Rondo attacked the lane with a left-handed dribble, and cupped the ball with his gargantuan right hand while skying up beyond the restricted circle for this deafening slam, the momentum of which brought him all the way to the floor. Rather than rotate and draw a charge or attempt to block it, Bosh just stood in awe as Rondo soared by and greeted the rim with authority.
* Pierce dunks over two Raptors
Dunking over one guy is nice, but dunking over two guys gets you the top spot on this list. Back in January, Paul Pierce wasn't willing to take any prisoners as he took a handoff from Rajon Rondo at the top of the 3-point arc and drove left. He motored his way to the rim, and when both Joey Dorsey and Amir Johnson rotated over to contest, Pierce accepted the challenge, rising up and literally throwing the ball in with his right hand over the outstretched arms of the two wannabe Toronto defenders. Pierce bruised a few egos, and the Celtics cruised to a mid-season victory.
Greg Payne is a student intern for ESPNBoston.com