Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 at 8:00 am  |  64 responses

Decade’s Best: Dunker

Forget it, Kadour Ziani is the best of all-time.

by Zach Smart

Greatest Dunker Ever. It’s a subject open to endless interpretation and analysis. Jordan, Dominique, Clyde The Glyde, Vince, David Thompson, Spud Webb, Shawn Kemp, Robert Pack — he of the proclivity for making posters out of Shawn Bradley — and so on.

When we think of Godzilla-slaying dunkers, the first image that comes to mind is… You guessed it. Vince Carter forever making Fred Weis a facebook cover photo, soaring over him and throwing down an emphatic, violent, eye-exploding dunk.

You remember it was like yesterday. Air Canada launching himself into the air from wherever, floating somewhere between the ceiling and the hardwood, cocking back and crushing home a banger. See Vince run. See Vince defy gravity. See Vince leave jaws littered all over the floor following a dazzling, one-handed sledgehammer.

Despite what you’re thinking, I’m going quickly change the tune. I’m going to get a beating for this one, a verbal bludgeoning. But the human pupil doesn’t lie. Unlike Sonny Vaccaro, the pupil doesn’t gas cats.

Despite Vince’s air prosperity and endless reel of nuts-in-your-face bangers, Kadour Ziani is the best dunker ever. The man featured in SLAM’s first-ever STREETBALL issue has staked his claim as the best dunker of all time. From having to hurdle an automobile on his way above the rim, to altering the trajectory of his dunk in mid-air, this 5-10 frenchman with a 56-inch vertical hop has more big ups than Sean Paul, man. I-and-I knows this Algerian cat can jump out of the junkyard, vaulting himself into a different area code.

The freakish, human pogo-stick has made dunking an art that engages the masses. Yeah, his hoop pedigree doesn’t wow us, but the guy has allowed folks all around the word to embrace his high-flying prowess. Respect due.


For more Decade Awards, check out the archive.

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  • higgins

    guy Dupree?

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Amazing guy, amazing feats… i used to call him the Photoshop Dunker, cause when i saw stills / photos of his dunks, i couldn’t believe they were real. then i saw video….

  • tom


  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    There is no doubt in my mind that this man is the best dunker I have ever seen. It’s not close. Vince Carter is (probably) the best dunker in NBA history. But.. man. Ziani is just in a class of his own.
    Maybe the best dunker ever. Just maybe?

  • tavoris

    amazing, but I thought these lists were in relation to actual basketball players.

  • http://basketsession.com/ t2c.wah

    Nuff respect to you Zach for going “underground” with the Zianimal as the best dunker of the decade!
    It’s a gutsy call but still for everybody around the globe that knows Kadour, it’s an obvious call!
    This cat is the most intense dunker & also the realest streetball/dunk promoter!
    The most amazing thing is probably that is nearly 40 now & despite a lot of injuries he’s still touring & dunking like a mofo…
    KADOUR is the greatest!

    Watch out for another French guy as the best dunker now: Guy Dupuy!

  • jdn41

    yeah cause otehrwise hot sauce or the professor would have the best crossover… just saying

  • Hussman25

    This should have been kept purely in the true Basketball Circles; i.e. High School/College/D-League/NBA or Europe/Overseas… Streetball is dying/dead!… It’s not the same anymore… *Do-over*

  • http://zsmart.blogspot.com Zach Smart

    respect due


  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    Did he ever play in any games? Or was he completely based on youtube?

  • http://www.yahoo.com Logues

    could have this guy dunked in a game like vince did? doubt it

  • http://www.amieorganics.com staff

    Great and all as that was, That was a remix of a tonne of variations of the same few dunks in show pieces, should this not be of in-game dunks over a decade? This is were they really mean something, off the dribble in a crowd and a pinicle times in a game to swing the crowd. Could you guys do that too?

  • Pic

    vince still takes the cake

  • Yesse

    Now this one i can agree with.

  • wilz

    vince couda done any of those dunks in that reel, and looked less awkward doing them.
    even j rich or j.r. smith..

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    His dunks just look better because he is 5’10. When you can dunk on guys in actual games, then maybe you can have this title. Until then it’s Vince.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    His dunks just look better because he is 5’10. When you can dunk on guys in actual games, then maybe you can have this title. Until then it’s Vince.

  • http://www.michaelcho.com M Cho

    Yeah, call me old-school, but the “best dunker” has to be able to do it in-game. I’m no great fan of VC, but damn if he didn’t have a crazy reel of mind-blowing in-game dunks.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    “We was robbed!”

  • Nappysupreme

    Listening to the commentors’ reaction to Vince’s dunk in french is priceless.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Why not James White then?

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Best in-game dunker might be Ricky Davis. Carter used to be my favorite player, but Davis was insane with in-game dunks. He did a through the legs dunk on a fast break, and he didn’t even have time to set it up. People were RIGHT on his heels and he just jams it through the legs as effortlessly as a quick lay-up. Incredible.

  • pkap444

    Agreed 110% that this list should probably be limited to the major basketball leagues/ organizations. Particularly in this case, by the logic that you used to crown Ziani one could just give a basketball to an Olympic-caliber high jumper, say ‘wow’ when he gets chest-high with the room, and bam. Best Dunker Ever.
    For overall body of work both in-game and in dunk contests, really? Vince is the answer.

  • pkap444

    *chest high with the rim, oops

  • whodat

    James ‘Flight’ White

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    EPIC FAIL ZACH DUMB! this is bs! if youre going to give it to some schmuck who has never played a game is just doing an exhibition, then it HAS to james white. this is vince’s title easily. youre trying to get all cute with this selection, and youre retarded for having done so, yea dude can jump but so what, i bet he never dunked on anybody. and whats up with have to run all the way down court before every dunk. just ask alonzo who should win this

  • Zach Smart

    Tarzan, no disrespect to James White but he couldn’t carry KZ’s jock strap in a suitcase. You’re talking about a 56inch vertical leap compared to a 39th vertical leap. KZ much more creative as well. Thanks for the promo. Instead of calling you a hater, I might as well call you my groupie :)

  • fahrenheit

    the dunks, although spectacular, were all one-foot takeoffs, with the same 360/reverse flavour to them.. I certainly didn’t see the variation that VC has to his dunks in that clip. The guy is basically doing three or four dunks.. And I really think VC could have pulled each of those dunks off actually, since he can palm and cup the ball like that easily. VC is still the best all time in my book… doesn’t hurt that he has pulled off some of the sickest dunks all time IN-GAME either.

  • Orlando Green

    Stupid! Anything he can do Vince can (or could) do, and probably better. The fact that skin and bones here does it being 5’10” makes it more impressive, yes, but it doesn’t make him a better dunker. It just means he has more hops.

  • http://www2.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/ DIMITRIS DIAMANTIDIS

    We NEVER compare guys that dunk over NBA guys with guys that do it in DUNK shows. N-E-V-E-R !!!!! I used to participate in that kind of contests and i can assure you that there is no comparison at all between in-game dunking and this…NO COMPARISON AT ALL. I am 100% sure that if Vince had concentrated on just dunking like Kdour he would have done more spectacular things than kadour(although small guys have always an advantage).Vince is the best dunker ever by far.Now, speaking about guys that are just dunkers, i like James White the most. The guy can perform 5 different dunks for the foul line. (I tried just one time in my prime to take of from the foul line. I didn’t even touch the rim with the ball, i think i took of pretty close to the line if not touching it, it was like a long-jump).

  • http://www2.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/ DIMITRIS DIAMANTIDIS

    by the way,greatest vertical of all-time(easily): Stefan Holm. Check his training where he is using 5.5 foot hurdles!!!!!!!

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    Hey Zach, ‘preciate you taking the heat off of me for picking Kwame Brown as the decades biggest bust instead of Darko Milicic.

  • Paps

    Dunking is not just about hops. It includes everything, power, grace, style, difficulty, creativity, situations and hops. This guy is good but has only got hops. He’s no where near Vince’s league. Vince hands done is the best dunker of all time.

  • Zach Smart

    hahah no worries BC….these haters are giving me plenty of promo

  • Zach Smart

    more hops? Watch the video again. When’s the last time u saw VC pull off some of the dunks KZ did when he was clearing the car, vaulting himself into the air and spinning before unleashing a banger..fast forward the action to 1:03, and tell me the last time vince or whoever did that? When’s the last time someone crushed a banger that KD did at :38? EYES DONT LIE
    bye groupies :)

  • Zach Smart

    talking about a 56inch vertical leap compared to a 39th vertical leap. KZ is much more creative as well. Thanks for the promo.

    As far as vince being better above the rim, please go to 38 seconds in and then 1:03 of the KZ youtube with the blindfold. When someone says best dunker, I like to look at it like a dunk contest.

    Would the judges vote vince over KZ??? let me know.

    Tarzan-when your done complaining to ur audiovisual friends about me, let me tell you thank you for the
    reaction. Now, get off my d— please

  • matt

    i hate vince – but its vc

  • LCD screen cleaner

    You guys like Vince only coz he’s american. Frenchi all the way.

  • Mike

    Wow I thought this was supposed to be the best dunker of the decade not the best gymnast!! VC is by far the superior dunker. He could have easily done all of those dunks and made them look a hell of a lot smoother while doing them too! Lets see this cat crush on Mourning or Mutumbos head like Vince did. Oh and those 360 windmills this guy is doing are $hit compared to vinces from the 2000 dunk contest.

  • J

    this guy was amazing. legit. but no disrespect, watching the whole 3 minutes and 6 seconds of his dunks, there’s no feeling of thrill. somehow i fell that Ive seen that from other guys. on the opposite, it only took me 11 seconds of Vince to remind me that he is the best dunker of this decade. vince just like mike(or better) is so smooth. and i ask my self is that Ziani guy really only 5’10″? cause i really don’t see that high air from him. it’s like he’s 6’7″ or something. vince on the other hand is taller but has more air. no offense to marion but VC should have been given the name “the matrix” because time moves slow when he dunks.

  • Washtub

    sorry, but dunk contests are the ghey.
    a dunk ain’t nothin without some poor schmuck being dunked on!

  • http://www2.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/ DIMITRIS DIAMANTIDIS

    at J and everybody else….:the rims at street-ball dunk contests are almost always ,at least, 10 cm lower.Guaranted( I have personal experience).

  • fahrenheit

    Wether or not this Ziani guy is the best dunker ever, I feel its a bit silly to include a showdunker into the crowning of the decades best. If that’s the way to go, then there’s probably some streetball dude who played better D than Wallace, and you know there’s someone out there with a sicker crossover than AI. Keep it to professional hoops please.

  • MikeG

    Vinsanity. Easily. It’s ridiculous to award it to a show dunker. And Zach Smart sounds like a 12 year old kid in his replies to these comments. Instead of mature retorts it’s “You’re my groupies” and “Get off my dick”. Slam must have some program where they let 6th graders submit articles.

  • Zach Smart

    Had to keep it real fellas…if the subject of ‘best facial’ or best posterizer of all time, surely Vince or someone else would have taken the crown. But the subject is best dunker and this cat has taken the art of dunking to a whole new level has helped the game garner recognition around the globe plus has more bounce more hangtime and more creativity than all the pros mentioned.

    AND as for Vince, didn’t he ditch those dunks for fallaway jumpers during the end of his stay with the Raptors? I know he had some sick oops with the Nets but his best bangers certainly came earlier in the decade…2000, 2001 were his most electrifying dunks Ziani is older than Vince and was still choking rims and defying gravity with much more of the aforementioned aspects

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Was the Greek Dude in here telling us about how it’s impossible for Euros to be as atheletic as Americans? How Kobe is just a freak of nature?
    Just curious.
    Eugenics is a mother.

  • Zach Smart

    Mike G-

    Was just messing around with that. I

  • Zach Smart

    knew that I was going to take a lot of heat for making a gutsy pick and was really just joking around with that comment. Did not mean to offend you. A lot of negative comments don’t exactly invite kind responses, but in that case it was just me getting a kick out of someone so overwhelmed by my selection. Hope you were not offended and thank you for the feedback.


  • Zach Smart

    knew that I was going to take a lot of heat for making a gutsy pick and was really just joking around with that comment. Did not mean to offend you. A lot of negative comments don’t exactly invite kind responses, but in that case it was just me getting a kick out of someone so overwhelmed by my selection. Hope you were not offended and thank you for the feedback.


  • robb

    56 in vertical??? GTFOH!

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/afrojones42 AfroJones42

    Kadour Ziani is a good dunker, but I wouldn’t say he’s the best dunker of all time, because he only does 4 or 5 dunks (360s, tomahawks,rock-the-cradle and double windmill). Kadour is (no doubt) one of the best leapers of all time.

    To me the best dunker of all time is Air Up There aka Mr 720. He does complex dunks in-games. C’mon man AUT did a 720 in the last period of the game. Check the dunks he was doing before he did the 720:


  • http://www.krackdiesel.blogspot.com KR

    This is a travesty. I’m sorry if I don’t really get impressed by people just dunking in contests. It’s more impressive when someone does it in game. I’m sure it’s some guy out there who shoots better than Ray Allen, but couldn’t play the game. I’ve never even heard of this guy, fam. Plus he doesn’t have any style in my opinion. He’s short and he can dunk, great. I’d rather watch N8 do the stanky legg and act like a douchebag after a dunk. Just being honest. This guy rocks the cradle or does a variation of it in almost every dunk…smh. Can this guy actually PLAY basketball?

  • a_whiteman

    justin jus fly darlington pulls off WAY HARDER dunks than this guy and is waaaay more creative. 56 inch vert is impressive but not a lot of difficult and creative dunks, saw the cradle rock and the statue of liberty about 30 times in the reel and NONE of those top jus flys 360 under BOTH legs. so in game i take vc, kb or amare, but non nba player goes to jus fly

  • a_whiteman
  • J

    mr Zach. its not that he ditch the dunks, his game has to evolve, plus injuries, age cope up with him. yes he lost the bounce, but i guess we don’t talk about longevity here, were discussing on why and how he was hailed as the decade’s best. vince had his best at 00-04, but it’s more than enough to conVINCE everyone. and i guess Ziani focused more on dunking than overall game wherein vince can’t he’s a pro after all. he’s not paid for show.

  • Zach Smart

    J-I agree. VC definitely was the top of his gravity-defying game during 00-04. Still, KZ handled his spate of injuries, bounced back and was still kissing the clouds before throwing down sledgehammers. Slim jumps so high he can tell the angels to holler at him before he comes down.

    I know Ziani was a streetballer as opposed to Vince, who was giving 7-foot cats posters at the top of the hour.

    Still, I think it’s really close. I would love to go with Vince being a longtime L fan and seeing him electrify arenas. Gotta go with the FRENCHie though, just based on aspects of his dunking like hangtime, creativity, wow-factor, and the fact that he’s around 40 now and has been choking rims consistently it’s got nothing to do with him being 5-10 and having rise for a little guy but the reel doesnt lie


  • J

    ^ they both have fair share of setbacks, and bounced back, but i think we both have to agree that Ziani bounced and focused more on dunking than the game right? and by saying that he’s 40 now means he’s more athletic than Vince right?(that’s not an advantage or disadvantage to either one). and my point of judging is not just on who has higher vertical and who can do this while on air, its more on who has that greater “ooomph” when they dunk. they are both extremely great dunkers nonetheless but the french guy looks more like a dunking machine while vince looks more like a ballerina. (side note: i like the french guy’s dunk on the 0:41 mark.)

  • Zach Smart

    fa sho. I agree to agree on that one

  • http://www.streetballin.net LetGuyDupuyDunk

    Guy Dupuy is the best dunker ever

  • http://www.ballislife.com Arek

    Slam… you guys are sooooooo off on this

  • http://Www.facebook.com Joe_king

    Um…dude can do a one handed double windmill.whens vince ever done that?

  • http://none 8113

    vince cant dunk off one foot…he attempted what looked like to be a foul line dunk with two hands in the dunk contest- barely made the dunk and stepped waaaay over the line.

    kadour had zero dunks off of two feet…

    james white- one of my favorites doesnt really dunk off of two feet but can go between the legs windmill from the foul line- windmills from foul line with authority.

    jordan- beautiful dunks off one and two feet- has to be up there for versatilty and grace… watch video “come fly with me”

    and1 “air up there” mr 720- off 2 feet mainly also has amazing dunks…

    really the conclusion is crowning someone the “greatest of all time” will always be an opinion and never be fact.

  • Kid Dynamite

    This cat would probably go a whole game without a single dunk….G.O.A.T? definitely not, great dunker? an emphatic YES. His cradle dunk is off the meat rack!!!

  • Ready

    How can he get a look over The Air Up There? 720? 360 Eastbay? Almost making a 360 Double Eastbay??? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NfgBTRKn_w This MISS is better than any dunk Kadour can do…Taurian Fontenetee is the BEST DUNKER EVER.