Who are the best dunkers in the history of the Boston Celtics? It’s hard to say for sure. Dunking a basketball requires a bit of artistry, and beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. (It also doesn’t help that the NBA didn’t list dunks as an official stat until the mid-1990s.)
Still, some of Boston’s best players certainly knew how to take it to the house, including members of the current squad. From the menacing strength of players like Bill Russell and Robert Parish to the graceful athleticism of Dee Brown or Jaylen Brown (no relation), there’s been plenty of rim rockers to wear Celtics green.
The question remains — who are the all-time best dunkers to ever suit up for the Boston Celtics? Let’s lace ’em up and discuss.
This list had to start with Dee Brown. Not only was he the first member of the team to win the NBA slam dunk contest, he is synonymous with dunking greatness among Celtics fans. Brown was drafted by Boston in 1990 and represented the club at the 1991 dunk contest. His iconic no-look dunk is the stuff of legend. Surprisingly, Brown later admitted he came up with it on the spot.
“I had to do something that was a signature, that the only person that had done it was Dee Brown,” Brown said. “I was sitting, getting ready for my dunk. I was thinking about different things going for my last dunk. I decided to close my eyes. No one had done that before.”
The move etched Brown’s name in NBA history and anointed Brown as one of the best dunkers in Celtics history. It helped that Brown was taking it to the rim during actual games as well.
Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
When Gerald Green won the 2007 NBA slam dunk contest, he joined Brown as one of two players to ever win the dunk contest in a Celtics uniform. And though Brown gets the nod for being the first, Green’s dunking prowess is nearly without peer.
One of the last players to join the NBA straight from high school, the Celtics drafted Green No. 18 in 2005. It took a few seasons for Green to find his footing as a pro, though his dunk highlights kept him in the national spotlight. Injuries to Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak during the 2006-07 season gave Green a chance to earn more consistent burn.
Green came in second in the 2008 slam dunk contest and connected on what might be the most thrilling in-game dunk in NBA history.
Robert Williams III
Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images
Again, the NBA didn’t track dunks until the middle of the 1990s, so it’s hard to make historical comparisons. Even still, Robert Williams III is one of the most ferocious dunkers to ever play for the Boston Celtics.
The vertical threat Williams provides the team is spectacular. He combines athleticism with size to drop the hammer to tremendous ends. Few plays are more exciting than a “Rob Lob” in the NBA – especially when he ends up breaking the rim.
At the time of this writing, Williams has played fewer than 200 games as a pro. For context, Bill Russell logged 963 total games played. Williams may have a way to go before he really cements himself as a Celtics great. For now, though, his unimpeachable dunking deserves praise.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Nate Robinson has won the most NBA slam dunk contests in history, with 3 such titles to his name. Yes, that Nate Robinson. The same Nate Robinson who stands at a pedestrian 5-foot-9. (And the same Nate Robinson who Gerald Green dunked over in 2007.)
Robinson’s hyper-athletic bounce made him one of the most exciting players of his day. And although he didn’t win the dunk contest as a member of the Celtics, he was still rim-rocking with the best of them during his time in Boston. Sometimes not even during a game itself!
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
Tony Allen is regarded as one of the best individual defenders in modern Celtics history. Fair enough — Allen was an absolute menace for opposing guards in his heyday. But lost in his reputation as a lockdown defender might be Allen’s legacy as an absolutely phenomenal dunker.
One of Allen’s most impressive highlights might have been his huge dunk over Antawn Jamison during the 2010 postseason. But truly Allen’s career is full of excellent jams.
That Allen’s legacy is first and foremost winning a title in 2008 speaks to the high standards in Boston. Celtics players are remembered primarily as champions. But the Boston Celtics had plenty of great dunkers, too.
Listen to the “Celtics Lab” podcast on:
Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3zBKQY6
[mm-video type=video id=01gqg9tj9mmj1yr5nr6h playlist_id=01eqbzegwgnrje4tv2 player_id=01f5k5xtr64thj7fw2 image=https://images2.minutemediacdn.com/image/upload/video/thumbnail/mmplus/01gqg9tj9mmj1yr5nr6h/01gqg9tj9mmj1yr5nr6h-a6f8529006faae0786f8b071bf45168c.jpg]