The five most disrespectful dunks in NBA playoff history

The five most disrespectful dunks in NBA playoff history

Shawn Kemp
Shawn Kemp
Illustration: NBA

It’s getting to be that time when important NBA basketball starts being played.

The postseason starts tomorrow with the Play-In Tournament, and this year we are bound to see high-intensity matchups that produce classic basketball moments that will live on forever.

These moments are draped with everything we love as petty NBA fans: Top-tier athleticism and skill, desire, and, most importantly, blatant disrespect for your opponent.

Today, we’ll take a look at some most disrespectful playoff dunks in the history of the NBA playoffs.

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Baron Davis detonates on AK47

Baron Davis detonates on AK47

SETTING THE SCENE: It’s Game 3 of 2007 Western Conference semifinals and Baron Davis of the 8-seed Golden State Warriors had just led the “We Believe” Warriors to an all-time upset win against 1-seed Dallas. Now, they are in a dogfight of a series with Utah and Davis didn’t hold anything back on this drive when he finished with authority on top of Andrei Kirilenko.

What made the play even wilder was the reaction from Davis and how he completely showed up the entire Utah roster that day. The lifting of the shirt and walking around with your hands up will live on forever in basketball lore. But the Jazz would win the series and get the last laugh, 4-1.

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LeBron James doesn’t care about human existence

LeBron James doesn’t care about human existence

SETTING THE SCENE: Game 4, 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers is taking on the NBA title-favorite Boston Celtics. King grabs the ball at the top of the key in the fourth quarter with the Cavaliers in control. Needless to say, James not only put a period on the dub for the Celtics, it was a full-on exclamation mark.

This is where the famous “LeBron James with no regard for human life” call was born. The dunk was top-tier disrespectful because not only did LeBron flex back as far as he could to throw it down on the Celtics’ heads, he also skipped to the bench immediately afterward. You know how much of a non-factor you have to be for a man to skip during your basketball game? The funny thing about this whole thing is that the Celtics actually went on to win the NBA Finals that season.

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Michael Jordan embarrasses Patrick Ewing

Michael Jordan embarrasses Patrick Ewing

SETTING THE SCENE: On Michael Jordan’s path to his first championship for the Chicago Bulls, he had some roadblocks that he had to take care of. One of the biggest was Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks. While the Knicks and Bulls would battle throughout the 90s, something had to give in the first round for these heavyweights. In Game 3 of the 1991 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, we saw Jordan claim his prominence over the New York Knickerbockers.

In one of the most iconic plays in NBA history, Jordan was trapped and was forced to fake out two defenders and finish over the 7-foot Ewing — a man who was usually an imposing force in the middle relegated to being as scary as a garden gnome during a home invasion. The entire play just exuded disrespect because who else other than Jordan would have the audacity to do something like this.

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Scottie Pippen embarrasses Patrick Ewing

Scottie Pippen embarrasses Patrick Ewing

SETTING THE SCENE: This particular year against the Knicks, the Bulls didn’t have Jordan, so teams were trying their best to take advantage. That still didn’t stop Scottie Pippen from taking Ewing’s soul during Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals. It’s arguably the rudest sequence in basketball history.

Pippen not only dunks on Ewing in transition, but he also steps over him while he is on the ground, and puts his junk right in Ewing’s face. He then goes over to say some words to avid Knicks fan Spike Lee, who was obviously still trying to process the crime that just happened on the court. The Dunk is a staple of Pippen’s career for good reason.

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Shawn Kemp puts Alton Lister through the floor

Shawn Kemp puts Alton Lister through the floor

SETTING THE SCENE: Shawn Kemp in his days with the Seattle SuperSonics was one of the most athletic players we had ever seen to that point. There was no athletic feat this man couldn’t accomplish on the court. And this athleticism gave us one of the most spectacular dunks in NBA history.

In Game 4 of the 1992 Western Conference quarters, Kemp caught the ball close to the top of the key against the Warriors, took one power dribble, and made Alton Lister an NBA laughing stock for eternity.

The way Kemp celebrated the slam is now one of the most recognizable dunk celebrations in history. The double point while laughing at the man you just embarrassed on national television gives off astronomical levels of disrespect. The celebration is so iconic that it has become a meme on social media today even though the play happened nearly 30 years ago, when everyone would have said, “Wait, what is a me-me?”

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