Let's clear the air right off the bat. While the fifteen dunks below may be some of the worst in the history of the game or competition, we have to still give credit to the athleticism that is needed in order to not only attempt, but complete the achievement. Chances are, any of us that are sitting here reading this piece could only break off one of these dunks on the office Nerf hoop or NBA 2K17.
Since 1984, the NBA All-Star weekend has crowned some of the best dunkers the league has to offer, minus two straight years in 98 & 99 due to the 2Ball Competition and the shortened lockout season that followed. Great dunkers such as Dr. J, Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Jason Richardson, Kobe Bryant and Zach LaVine have held the championship trophy overhead to close out All-Star Saturday nights. Fans have also been blessed to see underdog talent such as Spud Webb, Dee Brown and Desmond Mason come out of nowhere and claim the title. The greatness of the dunk isn't limited to just All-Star weekend, as fans and SportsCenter have witnessed their fair share of in-game classics, thanks to players such as Blake Griffin, Shawn Kemp, Darryl Dawkins, Tracy McGrady and Clyde Drexler to name but a few to join the above list.
However, fans have also been victim to viewing their fair share of duds when it comes to unsuccessful high flying acts on the hardwood. Yes, when it comes down to the dunk contests, it's hard to come up with creative new variations of the same 360 or windmill or free throw line dunk that has been done many times before, but that doesn't make up for the lack of execution. Same can be said when it comes down to in-game action. Although, players are trying to send fans home with something to talk about, the lack of claiming a simple two points turns into a spot on Shaqtin' a Fool.
15 Tyler Johnson
After pulling in just over $800,000 on his 2015-16 contract, the Miami Heat felt that the second year shooting guard from Fresno State was worth a four year, $50 million contract during the offseason. Yes, Johnson increased his scoring during his sophomore season by nearly three points per game and also saw a bump in his rebounds and assists, but thankfully Pat Riley didn't hold one forgettable moment against the North Dakota native.
Late in the first quarter in a meaningful battle with the Toronto Raptors, Johnson had over forty-five feet of freedom on route to the rack. Sadly, not only did the reverse dunk result in a miss, but the ball fired off the rim and then off the shot clock, adding insult to injury as the box score would read a missed field goal attempt AND a turnover on the same possession.
14 Ronnie Price
The best part about Ronnie Price's missed dunk is not the actual dunk itself, but the potential build up for an epic Rob Sacre celebration that was quickly extinguished and replaced with a pained expression of displeasure. After being picked up by the LA Lakers prior to the start of the 2014-15 season to battle for minutes at the point guard position, the much traveled veteran cut off the swing pass between two Indiana Pacers and was off to the races with nobody between him and the promise land.
Gathering his footing and the rock, Price cocked the ball back and leaned in for a left handed throw down. Sadly, like the Lakers pathetic season, so to was the finish on Price's dunk, as instead of firing it down the bucket, he threw it off the backboard. You can't pin a 21-61 record on one play, but it surely made a horrible year even more memorable.
13 DeMar DeRozan
At 27.3 PPG, DeRozan is currently one of the top ten leading scorers in the NBA. He's also the all-time leader in points and games played in the history of the Toronto Raptors. And sadly he may also be the leader in the worst dunk attempt in team history. Now, we all know that DeRozan can throw down with the best of them. But on a late winter evening back in 2015, the Compton native put the exclamation mark on the Raptors winless streak as they fell to the New York Knicks and extended their struggles to five straight games.
Among the 15 shots that DeMar put up that night, 12 of them clanged off the rim, including a break away 360 dunk attempt. With Tim Hardaway Jr. in tow, DeRozan prepared for takeoff at the dotted line, but instead of flushing the rock, he barely connected with the rim, rolling it out before losing the rebound to his Knick counterpart. While that 360 attempt proved futile and made this list as one of the worst attempts, another failed 360 attempt this past summer could be one of the greatest missed dunks in history that could have been an epic make.
12 Chris Andersen
The second of two dunks that the Birdman screwed up time and time again in the 2005 Dunk Contest led to some pretty awful dunk sightings. Instead of altering his dunk of choice to something more within his realm of capability and a higher success rate, Andersen attempted a half-court self lob nine times before finally finishing the tenth attempt. Yes, even though he was the host team favorite, Anderson made fans sit through horrible lob after lob, to the point that Charles Barkley was asking for a commercial break and future teammate LeBron James was caught laughing at him on camera.
For whatever reason, the rule was stated that a dunk had to be completed, not just attempted. Sadly, the judges gave him a 41.
11 Glen Davis
At 6'9" and 290 pounds, Glen Davis, despite his girth, still made his way around the basketball court and had a relative amount of athletic ability. Unfortunately, during a prime matchup with the Miami Heat on national TV, Davis' athletic ability failed him. After stealing Dwyane Wade's cookies, the Celtics big man rambled up the court with nothing between him and the basket except wide open space.
Unfortunately for Davis, that cookie may have added some extra weight and a miscalculation of loft needed to reach the rim as the two handed dunk attempt found nothing but the front of the rim. While the missed dunk was probably embarrassing enough, the foul that took place immediately following as Davis turned and smashed Miami's Chris Bosh to the ground was icing on the cake.
10 Aaron Gordon
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Last year around this time, AG was seen as the one who got robbed after captivating fans with a performance that in many minds ranked in the top five of all dunk contest performances and yet he walked away with nothing. This year, without Zach LaVine to battle, Gordon seemed prime for taking the title.
While rumors have been floating around that the Orlando Magic forward was operating on a bum wheel, his lack of execution on the Drone dunk, which took him four attempts to complete, took the pizzazz out of the anticipation for something special. Throw in a handful of attempts on a 360 under the butt dunk and it was a sad sight for what was built up on high expectations of an evening of redemption.
9 Larry Hughes
Let's face it, bouncing the ball between ones legs off the backboard is a feat on its own. Now if you try to add in catching it and throwing down some sort of spectacular dunk, the challenge increases immensely.
However with that being said, when the former Sixers guard/forward attempted to relive Kenny "The Jet" Smith's infamous dunk, multiple attempts and snickering by teammate Allen Iverson still could not motivate the St. Louis legend to complete any of his four bounces (two of which completely missed the backboard). Luckily for Hughes, he was given another opportunity because the bounces weren't defined as dunk attempts. Unlucky for fans, he missed a reverse double pump badly and would walk away from the dunk contest forever. Poor guy....
8 Von Wafer
In six years, Von Wafer found himself collecting seven different NBA jerseys as the former Florida St. Seminoles combo guard/forward suited up for five Western Conference squads before signing as a free agent with the Celtics in 2010. Serving mainly as a deep bench player during his time in Boston, Wafer found himself on the receiving end of some late game minutes from Doc Rivers team during a road game in Washington. With the Cs holding a two point edge, Wafer curled off the three point line and into the lane for a thunderous dunk.
While there have been plenty of missed dunks throughout the history of the game and you have to give Wafer credit for attacking the rack, the sequence of events that followed the missed bucket is what places Wafer on this list. Unknown to the Celtic guard, the flush did not go down (mistake number one) leaving Wafer to pose in front of the Wizards fans (mistake number two). The snowball effect did not stop there as Wafer turned around post celebration and ran smack dab into teammate Jermaine O'Neal, causing the big man to commit a turnover (mistake number three). Coaches always say, it's not one mistake that will get you benched, it's when you cause multiple ones that you find a spot on the pine.
7 Antonio Harvey
The Lakers power forward started off the 90 second period well with a pair of athletic and powerful dunks that brought some pleasure to the Phoenix crowd on the night. However, with the gas tank running on fumes and time running out, Harvey looked for a big finish. With his third dunk attempt slipping out of his hands, the second year big man out of Mississippi needed something that would wow the judges and the crowd.
Unfortunately, his final attempt would become famous for failure more than anything else. A free throw line 360 dunk would wind up with the ball thrown nowhere near the rim, much to the chagrin and shock of teammate and former champion Cedric Ceballos and soon to be Laker, Shaquille O'Neal.
6 Ricky Davis
Ricky Buckets. Ah Ricky Buckets. Please remember that this is a man who tried to get himself a triple-double by attempting a shot on his own basket and grabbing the rebound. Before Ricky was relocated to the Boston Celtics, he was a member of a horrible Cleveland Cavaliers team and had completed a breakaway, between-the-legs dunk.
Maybe it was leprechaun pride gone sour, but when Davis attempted a similar dunk during a Boston home game against the LA Lakers, the result was nowhere close to the same. Wide open from half court, Davis attempted to wow the Beantown faithful with something special. If you call throwing the ball off the back of the rim something special, he accomplished his goal. Luckily (or sadly) the Lakers defense had yet to get back to their end of the court and Davis was able to make up for his error with a windmill dunk. Ah Ricky Davis.
5 Josh Smith
During the 2009 first round playoff battle between the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks, Josh Smith tried to wow his home crowd with an epic dunk. While fans were already content with the Hawks holding a twenty point lead with a shade over four minutes left in the fourth quarter, Smith had a typical JSmoove brain-fart as instead of finishing a near guaranteed one handed cram or God forbid a simple layup, the Hawks forward wanted a bigger piece of the spotlight.
Following a Heat turnover, Joe Johnson hit Smith with a lead pass at the mid-court line, sending his teammate in for what should have been a gimme basket. Instead of finishing the play, Smith attempted an East Bay Funk that was full of funk and no finish. Luckily for Smith, the ball fired off the back of the rim straight back into Johnson's hands. And Smith wonders why teams question his shot selection?!?
4 Darrell Armstrong
The 1996 event was already hanging a big "L" on itself with no big name player to stand in the spotlight. Names such as Brent Barry, Michael Finley and Greg Minor were the three finalists of the contest and while Barry and Finley had successful NBA careers, they weren't necessarily household names as we typically see in the competition.
The underdog of the event was Orlando Magic rookie guard Darrell Armstrong. After completing his first attempt, Armstrong continued to run all over the court as he made repeated efforts to finish his second dunk in the 90 second time limit. With little fuel left in the tank and ten seconds left on the clock, Armstrong may have made the most infamous dunk contest LAYUP in history.
3 Blake Griffin
Bet you didn't think that you would see the Mayor of Lob City on this list. This wasn't a single dunk attempt, but rather a plethora of "what the hell was he thinking" efforts that we can place here.
Exhibit 1 - an over the shoulder drop pass from Eric Bledsoe to a trailing Griffin who attempted to take Rodney Stuckey's life but just crumpled into a big mess and a missed dunk.
Exhibit 2 - Blake attempting a similar dunk on the Nuggets guard JR Smith after receiving a pass on the trail from former teammate Eric Gordon.
Exhibit 3 - Tired of trying to assassinate just one opponent, Blake took on both David Lee and Andris Biedrins, formerly of the Golden State Warriors.
Exhibit 4 - Blake took on a man his own size as he attempted to smash both Amir Johnson and the basket in a game against the Toronto Raptors.
Exhibit 5 - Taking on the San Antonio Spurs, Griffin attempts to send the Spurs rookie big man Tiago Splitter back to Brazil. Fortunately none of these homicide attempts were completed and all potential victims walked away unharmed.
2 Nate Robinson
The smallest dunk contest competitor since Spud Webb grabbed the title, as the Seattle native and New York Knicks guard started his evening off with a successful first and second attempt and brought some oohs and ahhs from the crowd. His third dunk attempt however, almost had Magic Johnson ready to hang up his commentators headset and call it a night.
Yes, at a listed 5'9", an off the backboard, between the legs dunk is incredibly hard, as it is for someone even 6'9." However, at some point you'd think that Robinson would have known when enough is enough and moved on to something else. Fortunately for Lil Nate, pride kept him working on his craft, unfortunately for fans, that pride came at the price of seven missed attempts before completion.
1 JaVale McGee
It's unfortunate that Javale McGee ended up here, but you have to know that a list such as this one had to include at least one of JaVale's blunders. A long time resident of Shaqtin' A Fool, the veteran forward has long desired to be taken serious, but with a bone-headed play like this, that request gets thrown out the window.
In a Sacramento Kings blowout victory over McGee's Washington Wizards, the 7'0" big man snagged a lazy Kings inbound pass and had a clear runway to the hoop for an easy, guaranteed two points. Nope. Maybe McGee thought that with a free throw line dunk that he would get 50 points for his team from the judges and be the hero. Sadly, as a result of the ball rocketing off the back of the rim, the Wizards not only had to walk away with a 25 point L, but also a spot on the SportsCenter Misplays Of The Night, Month and Year.