Basketball Slam Dunk

Basketball Slam Dunk

Slam dunks are fun and flashy shots in basketball that often make it to highlight reels. While shooting from the field is important for scoring, a good slam dunk can change the momentum of a game. Keep reading to learn more about slam dunks in basketball.

What Is a Slam Dunk in Basketball?

A slam dunk in basketball is a shot where an offensive player leaps into the air and slams the ball directly into the net by grabbing the rim with one or two of their hands. A slam dunk counts as a field goal and earns a team two points. There are many flashy ways to perform a slam dunk, but the minimum requirements for it to be called a slam dunk are that the ball is slammed through the hoop and that the player touches the rim.

Dunks can be done with a spin, backward, after an alley-oop, while hanging off of the rim, or after passing the ball through one's legs. They can thus be as simple or as complex as a player desires.

Why Do Players Perform Slam Dunks in Basketball?

One of the biggest reasons for a player to perform a slam dunk is because of the entertainment factor. Due to NBA players often being well over six feet tall, it is much more feasible at higher levels of play. Though it's easier for taller players to make a slam dunk, shorter NBA and collegiate players often use their jumping ability to reach the rim and slam the ball through the hoop. Dunking is also a highlight play that will often circulate on social media and television, giving the dunking player extra exposure.

Another major reason that players perform slam dunks is that they are a very high percentage shot. This means that slam dunks are quite difficult to miss if players can jump high enough and also hard to block since it forces both players to get so close to the rim.

Are Slam Dunks Allowed in Basketball?

There are no limits to when and how players are allowed to slam dunk as long as they don't commit a foul while doing so. A very common foul that can occur during a slam dunk attempt is the offensive player running through a set defender. It's most often done on fast breaks when players are one-on-one or even by themselves. At some lower levels of basketball, slam dunks may be prohibited in warmups.

NBA Slam Dunk Contest

The slam dunk became so popular in the NBA that the league added an event in 1984 entirely dedicated to it in its All-Star game weekend, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. In this competition, several players compete against each other to get scored by judges based on the skill level of the slam dunk performed. Some of the best slam dunkers over the years include Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Nate Robinson, and Blake Griffin. The slam dunk is considered a tradition in the NBA, and fans await to watch whatever creative and difficult new shots the competitors have to present.


Who was the first to slam dunk?

Many believe that the first slam dunk made in an organized game of basketball was by Joe Fortenberry around 1936. Fortenberry, who was 6’8’’, would eventually be the captain of the American basketball team in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Who first called it a slam dunk?

It's said that the acclaimed sports broadcaster Chick Hearn coined the term slam dunk in 1972; prior to that, it was called a dunk shot. You may even hear someone off of the court refer to something as a slam dunk when they think something is easy to do. Over the years, the slam dunk became very popular and its use increased, especially in the NBA.

Why are slam dunks effective?

Slam dunks can boost team morale and send a message to the opponent that a team is ready to play aggressively. You'll often see slam dunks featured on sports networks' top 10 plays since they are such an entertaining highlight of the sport. They are also a high percentage shot, meaning they are likely to be made and are very hard to block.