When you think of Dominique Wilkins, you typically think of ferocious slam dunks. Wilkins is easily one of the greatest dunkers in NBA history, and he helped bring dunking to the forefront of the NBA during the 1980s. There’s a reason he is nicknamed “The Human Highlight Film” after all.
Even without the dunks, Wilkins was one of the most talented players of his generation. He was a dominant scorer throughout his career, and his offensive prowess helped him earn nine All-Star selections. The biggest knock on Wilkins is that he was never able to win a title during his career, although you cannot take that away from his individual greatness.
Wilkins was a great dunker, but who else does he consider to be on the same level as him?
Wilkins found himself on many folks’ list of the greatest dunkers in NBA history, and for a good reason. But the big question is, who does Wilkins see as the greatest dunkers in the game? Here’s what Wilkins had to say when presented the question:
“[Excluding myself] of course Michael, Dr. J... who is the grandaddy of us all. I’ve always said that. Vince Carter and… aw man, I think other guys like… look at LaVine and Gordon. You’ve gotta have them guys up at the top there as well. But, I’m gonna tell you another guy that nobody ever talks about: David Thompson. David Thompson, people don’t know how good he was. One of the greatest athletes I’ve ever seen in my life.” - Dominique Wilkins, The Spun
Making sense of Wilkins' Mount Rushmore of dunkers
Wilkins doesn’t necessarily give the most straightforward answer here, but it’s interesting to see the names he listed. Michael Jordan was a fantastic dunker, and Wilkins’ battle with Jordan in the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest is still widely considered the greatest in NBA history, so there’s some mutual respect there. Wilkins has also said that he idolized Julius Erving growing up, so it makes sense that he’s included too.
For more modern players, Wilkins rattles off Vince Carter, Zach LaVine, and Aaron Gordon. Carter seems like an obvious choice here, as his 2000 Slam Dunk Contest performance is considered one of the best of all time. LaVine and Gordon had a famous battle in the 2016 Slam Dunk Contest, which helped cement them as superb individual dunkers.
The most obscure choice on this list, though, is David Thompson. Thompson helped dunking become notorious when Erving did, but his short eight-year career has resulted in many people forgetting his impact on the game. Wilkins and Jordan have both said that Thompson inspired them to become better dunkers, so Wilkins choosing him makes sense.
Overall, this list has some big names, with Jordan, Erving, and Carter feeling like solid choices. But, ultimately, any list about dunking that doesn’t feature Wilkins feels wrong. He may not make his own list, but we all know Wilkins is almost sure to be on everybody else’s top NBA dunkers list.