A slam dunk (or simply a dunk) is a type of basketball shot that is performed when a player jumps in the air and manually powers the ball downward through the basket with one or both hands over the rim. Merriam-Webster refers the term "slam dunk" to the term "dunk shot", which is defined as "a shot in basketball made by jumping high into the air and throwing the ball down through the basket". M-W dates "slam dunk" at 1972, and "dunk shot" as "circa 1961". This is considered a normal field goal attempt; if successful it is worth two points. The term "slam dunk" was coined by Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn. Prior to that, it was known as a dunk shot.
The slam dunk is one of the highest percentage shots one can attempt in basketball as well as one of the most crowd-pleasing plays. Other terms for slam dunk include "jam", "boom", "bang", "punch", "stuff", "flush", "cram", "spike", "yoke", or "throw down." Slam dunks are also performed as entertainment outside of the game, especially during slam dunk contests. Perhaps the most popular such contest is the NBA Slam Dunk Contest held during the annual NBA All-Star Weekend. The first slam dunk contest was held during an American Basketball Association All Star Game.
Dunking was banned in the NCAA from 1967 to 1976. Many have attributed this to the dominance of the then-college phenomenon Lew Alcindor (now called Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) upon his entry into the NCAA. Subsequently, the no-dunking rule is sometimes referred to as the "Lew Alcindor Rule."
Wilt Chamberlain was known to have dunked on an experimental 12-foot basket set up by Phog Allen at the University of Kansas in the 1950s. Michael Wilson, a former Harlem Globetrotter and University of Memphis basketball player, matched this feat on April 1, 2000. Dwight Howard dunked on a 12-foot basket in the 2009 NBA dunk contest off an ally-oop.
Jim Pollard, Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Stromile Swift, Darrell Griffith, Korleone Young, Edgar Jones, LeBron James, James White, Vince Carter, Dwight Howard, Mike Conley and Brent Barry have each dunked while jumping from around the free throw line, which is 15 feet from the basket. Unlike the others, Wilt Chamberlain did not require a full running start, but instead began his movement from inside the top half of the free throw circle.
Several notable and remarkable dunks have been performed by players at the annual NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Spud Webb at 5'7" (1.70 m) defeated 6'8" (2.03m) Dominique Wilkins in the 1986 contest. Michael Jordan popularized a dunk referred to by some fans as "the leaner". This dunk was so-called because Jordan's body was not orthogonal to the ground ("leaning") while performing the dunk. TNT viewers rated it "the best dunk of all time" over Vince Carter's between-the-legs slam.
Vince Carter dunked while leaping over 7-foot-2 (2.18 m) French center Frédéric Weis in the 2000 Summer Olympics. The French media dubbed it "le dunk de la mort" — "the dunk of death." Carter is also known for introducing the "Honey Dip" or the "cookie jar" dunk in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest, where Carter demonstrated it hooking his forearm/elbow into the rim after dunking and hanging. The "Honey Dip" at the time was unnamed. Carter used it as his specialty dunks along with his Reverse 360 Windmill dunk and between-the-legs dunk. When performed much of the audience was speechless, including the judges, because none had seen these types of amazing dunks before (although, Carter's 360 Windmill dunk is closely reminiscent of Kenny Walker's winning "Tomahawk" dunk in 1989). Carter would later go on to comment that he copied these dunks from an article in Slam magazine featuring Jameel Pugh