Denny Crum: "Nobody likes to be dunked on--and they were good at it. And, they had the feeling they could dunk on anybody. The opponents read and hear all that and, it did, I think give them a psychological edge that no one had."
#10: Darrell Griffith's Two-Handed Reverse Alley-Oop
Watch for it at the 0:06-0:07 second mark. Two handed catch, floating away from the basket, mid-air adjustment, reverse dunk. Unfortunately, this is the only evidence we have of the dunk, but it still warrants inclusion despite the low definition footage and missing pass and reaction. There aren't many players today who could pull off that catch-and-dunk, but Darrell Griffith, Ph.D is not like many players.
#9: T-Will being T-Will at Rutgers in 2009
None of these dunks were top ten alone--well, ok the alley-oop windmill was up there--but the fact these are all in the same game is pretty incredible. I celebrate the man's entire dunking catalogue.
#8: Jason Osborne to Greg Minor Off-The-Backboard dunk in the 1994 NCAAT Round of 64
Rude. Brash. Disrespectful. Showing off. Man, I love it so much. And these guys were doing this in the
NCAA Metro NCAA Tournament. That's so early '90s Louisville basketball.
#7: Earl Clark's Luke Harangody Facial dunk in 2009
Earl's defining moment as a Cardinal, next to his dagger versus #1 ranked Pittsburgh. And he doesn't just dunk on someone, he dunks on the biggest player on the court and one of Notre Dame's best players (and easiest to hate) in recent memory.
#6: Darrell Griffith's Around The World dunk vs. LSU in the 1980 Elite Eight
Doctor Dunkenstein doing his thing. For 1980 standards, this is an incredible dunk, even without the presence of a defender. Ask your father, uncle, grandma, whomever--this is a dunk they'll speak of with the reverence of a child being baptized.
#5: Alvin Sims You May Get Your Hand Broke dunk versus Texas in the 1997 Sweet Sixteen
Just gonna get out of Gus Johnson's way here:
"Here's Sims--MY GOODNESS. WOOOO, BOY. 19 points for the senior from Paris, Kentucky; taking it strong to the basket."
"Now, watch Alvin Sims go to the basket. First of all, there's really no resistance but when it comes it's much too late, because that is a strong finish...This is B.J. Flynn's view--oh no, don't go there, you may get your hand broke if you go in the basket on that one."
#4: Chane Behanan's Flying Knee dunk on DePaul's Worrel Clahar in 2013
The Flying Knee dunk covers the full spectrum of what makes a great sports highlight: anticipation, momentum, a clear target, a challenger, carnage and humiliation.
At the beginning of the video, watch Behanan retreat to the far end of the court, stage right, while visually marking his man and the ball handler. Meanwhile, Clahar struggles to evade the full court pressure of Russ Smith and Peyton Siva and telegraphs a sloppy jump-pass towards a teammate at midcourt.
Like a Discovery Channel vignette of unsuspecting gazelles grazing in the wild, Chane re-appears on frame as a predator bent on violence and pounces on the ball. Then, for reasons only known to him, Clahar decides his best option is to stare down the 260-pound beast barreling towards him. Oh, Worrel we think to ourselves as the inevitable nears. Behanan takes an additional dribble, two steps and leaps through Clahar's face before cramming the ball. If Clahar had been Behanan's teammate, a liberal stat-keeper could've given him the assist.
Describing the dunk after the game, Behanan said; "I could feel teeth on my knee." Damn, damn, damn, Chane.
#3: (1989) LaBradford Smith Climbs Mount Everest in 1989
The original #DePaulDay facial. The second angle at the end, my god it still does things for me.
LA's dunk gets the nod over Chane's by the slimmest of margins. The elements of nostalgia surrounding this dunk make it special to me. You've got the classic Louisville uniform, iconic basketball voices in Al McGuire and Marv Albert and John Tong's sultry voice over the PA in the background at Freedom Hall. If you close your eyes while watching the video, you can smell the caramel popcorn.
Every dunk on this list is amazing, so the aesthetics play a large role in determining order and it would be criminally unfair to compare McGuire's rapid-fire "He climbed Mount Everest" moniker to an ESPNU fourth-string announcer's "That's just not fair." We won't remember ESPNU announcer's name in 10 years nor the name of the soulless arena DePaul plays in, some 30 minutes removed from their campus. The charge/block silliness doesn't help, either.
#2: Everick Sullivan's Baseline Reverse Dunk on Florida State's Irving Thomas in 1989
Shamefully underrated by Louisville fans. If the early '90s Cards teams had played in the modern era of television and Internet streaming, several somewhat forgotten names like Everick Sullivan, Cornelius Holden, Jerome Harmon et al. would be trending worldwide on Twitter every night. Thank god for grainy 240p YouTube videos.
As for the dunk, it's one-of-a-kind. Anyone who's studied his dunks portfolio knows Sullivan loved the reverse slam. It looked as though something in Everick's brain altered his equilibrium so that he couldn't jump in the air and land on two feet without turning 180 degrees. But a reverse dunk along the baseline on a former Kentucky player's head was special, even for Everick, and should be permanently archived near the apex of great dunks in Louisville history.
I'm not saying it influenced its ranking on this list, but Sullivan hitting the game-winning 3 in overtime from the same spot he started his reverse facial on Thomas didn't hurt.
The shy kid who helped write Freedom Hall's final chapter arguably gave us the greatest dunk in Louisville history. Arguably.
Recency bias? Naturally. But a quarter million views on YouTube can't be wrong, right?
The dunk itself was an apparition. Kyle Kuric can jump, sure, but this was something we hadn't seen yet. The cheerleaders' reactions really sell it, too. OH. MY. GOD. Even the players on Notre Dame's bench jumped up and started to celebrate before realizing their teammate just got eviscerated by a dude from Evansville. And not to get into the obvious demographics here, but um, you know, it's kinda hard to ignore. Annnnnd yayum.
Honorable Mention: all the dunks in this video
...and this one, too:
It's amazing how many of these dunks occurred either in the NCAA Tournament or in important conference games.
Alright, that's the list, hope you enjoyed it. If you disagree with the order, that's because you should.