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Slam! (Basketball).

For many basketball fans the slam dunk is the most exciting and entertaining play in sports. A breathtaking dunk can change the course of a game. Often a dunk will excite the team and the crowd. A dunk displays not only the strength and leaping ability of a player, it also showcases his artistry, power, grace and athleticism in mid-air.

kidsworld went to Basketball U at to learn about this awesome sport spectacle.


A skywalker's ability to hang in the air is known as "hang time." Former NBA star Clyde Drexler of the Portland Trail Blazers often exhibited his soaring hang time in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, acquiring the nickname, "Clyde the Glide." Some high-flying players, such as Toronto Raptors star Vince Carter, decide what they are going to do once they are in the air. Carter will often attempt a "windmill," where he brings the ball to his waist and raises it back up in a circular motion before dunking.

Skywalkers are players who add their own artistic flair to dunking such as Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Steve Francis of the Houston Rockets. These players display their creative moves on the way to the basket, often changing direction and hanging in mid-air before delivering the ball to the hoop with a forceful slam. Most skywalkers play the position of guard or small forward.

This is what Michael Jordan of the Washington Wizards said about how the dunk has evolved.

"I'll give you a great example of the evolution of the game. In the NBA Slam Dunk contest, the major feat was to take off from the free-throw line Dr. J (Julius Erving) was the first to do it, then I did it. What was different about the way the two of us did it?

"When Dr. J took off, he ran. I dribbled, which is harder to do because you've got to get your rhythm together, That was my way of improving on what Dr. J did. That was taking it to the next level -- the evolution of the dunk. And then in the All-Star game in 2000, Vince Carter took off with two hands from the free-throw line. That's the evolution of how change happens."


Power dunkers like to use their brute strength to dunk the ball with force. Most of the NBA's power dunkers, such as Antonio Davis of the Toronto Raptors, jump off two feet to dunk. Power dunkers usually dunk during the course of a game when close to the basket. Some of the NBA's most powerful dunkers include Chris Webber of the Sacramento Kings, Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Rasheed Wallace of the Portland Trail Blazers. Most power dunkers are their team's "big men," playing the position of power forward or centre.

Some guards are also power dunkers, unafraid to challenge the tall trees that protect the basket, such as Michael Finley of the Dallas Mavericks and Jerry Stackhouse of the Detroit Pistons. These players drive to the "basket" or "attack the rack."

Perhaps no player today "throws down" harder than LA Lakers' centre Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq has actually broken basketball backboards when dunking the ball.


Size (Almost) Doesn't Matter

Former Atlanta Hawks guard Spud Webb was the shortest player to ever win the NBA's Slam Dunk contest, standing only 1.7 m tall and weighing 60 kg.

Competing in the 1986 Slam Dunk contest, Spud reached the final versus his good friend and teammate, Dominique Wilkins. Playing in front of his hometown Dallas audience, Spud lobbed the ball from near midcourt causing it to bounce off the floor, then catching it backwards for a dunk. He received a perfect score. Spud, though proud, was not surprised by his achievements. He dunked the summer before his senior year of high school when only 1.5 m tall!

"It helped that I could jump. But dunking wouldn't have meant a thing to me if the other guys didn't first respect me as a basketball player," said Spud.

For more cool basketball info check out and go to NBA BASKETBALL U


A player's vertical (vertical is a short form for a vertical leap), indicates how high a player can jump vertically (up) from a stationary position Players with large verticals are able to use their "hops" or jumping ability to "jump out of the gym." The Los Angeles Clippers have four young players under the age of twenty-two with verticals over 1 m: Keyon Doolinq, Corey Maggette, Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson.


NBA great Dominique Wilkins, formerly of the Atlanta Hawks, and Slam Dunk champion in 1985 and 1990, offers the following jumping tips:

"Aside from God-given talent, I used to work on my timing and my explosiveness. I used to have a bench, about two feet [60 cm high] and eight to nine inches [21 cm] wide, I used to jump over it back and forth for 50 times. We used to do that when was in high school four to five times a week. In addition to this, I did leg extensions and leg-strengthening exercises. Stretching when you're tired can improve stamina and strength,"
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Publication:Kidsworld Magazine
Date:Mar 22, 2002
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