We’ve all heard the narrative by now. Vince Carter, likely the greatest in-game dunker in NBA history helped put the Toronto Raptors on the map with his almost nightly jaw dropping mid-air theatrics. His almost ballerina-like body control combined with his trampoline vertical leap and his thunderous finishes had him, and by extension the Raptors franchise, heavily on the radar of nightly sportscasts south of the border.
We all know that story, which is why if we simply put together a “greatest dunks in Raptors history” list, it would mostly amount to a top 10 list of Carter’s 17-year career. This is a list that will honour the often forgotten dunks from the other Air Canada pilots who ruled the Toronto skies. This list contains everyone from D-League cast offs, to short-lived trade deadline acquisitions, to some of the core players of today.
10. Pops Mensah-Bonsu the gazelle
If you remember the days of Pops Mensah-Bonsu then you are a true Raptors fan. Mensa-Bonsu was one of the few bright spots in the otherwise bleak 2008-2009 campaign. The native of London, England came to the team in March that year and provided blocks, hustle, and plenty of hops. This clip contains all three in succession allowing it to crack our list. Bonus points for the mic’d up rims making the finish sound like a devastating car wreck.
9. DeMar DeRozan destroys Kyle Singler
Simply put, DeMar DeRozan took Kyle Singler’s soul. Late in the fourth of what should have been a late season blowout against the lowly Pistons, the Raptors were being seriously challenged. DeRozan put an end to all of that with an emphatic posterization over the current Thunder forward. This dunk was also followed by one of the first official appearances of the DeRozan “stank face.”
8. Jamario Moon defies the laws of physics
Jamario Moon’s arrival in Toronto couldn’t have been more unheralded. He arrived in 2007 a 27 year old undrafted rookie from a relatively unknown community college in Alabama. Moon that season would end up taking the starting small forward position from the injured Jorge Garbajosa and for a year and a half he would dazzle Raptors fans with his almost superhuman leaping ability , each of which being the subject of countless puns about his last name by the great Chuck Swirsky. This dunk on New Years Eve 2007 in New Orleans was by far his best. He likely could have taken off from two or three feet further back and still have completed the slam.
7. Rookie Chris Bosh puts Theo Ratliff on a poster
It’s crazy to think about now, but Chris Bosh in his rookie year could get up. This slam by the then skinny teenager was likely one of the better in game highlights of his long illustrious career. Bless Theo Ratliff’s heart for challenging CB4, but his contest came a tad late to do anything to stop it, but just in time to pose for one hell of a poster.
6. Shawn Marion disrespects Danny Granger.
Shawn Marion is one of those guys that you stop and think “uh huh, he did play for the Toronto Raptors didn’t he?” The former four time all star and now retired forward was one of Bryan Colangelo’s crown jewels in the dominant “seven seconds or less” Phoenix Suns of the mid 2000s. While the stint of the “Matrix” was barely a cup of coffee, he did provide us with this absolutely filthy highlight reel slam. Marion almost completely cleared Danny Granger, instead settling for kicking him straight in the teeth. Props to Granger for catching the ball on the comeback and playing it off like a champ.
5. Keon Clark: The personification of power
Keon Clark only spent one season with the Toronto Raptors, but will be remembered by many diehards as one of the most powerful dunkers to don the purple and black. Despite the fact that this clip looks like it was filmed with a Betamax from the 1970s, the carnage is still fully palpable. The UNLV product basically threw down the Dwight Howard “Superman” dunk from the 2008 Dunk Contest except with a 7’6 human being draped all over him. Poor Shawn Bradley was one of the all time NBA dunking bags.
4. Rudy Gay with an impossible tomahawk slam.
Much has been said about Rudy Gay’s tenure in Toronto, but the man did have an incredibly aesthetically pleasing game. This may be the greatest extension anyone has ever gotten on a tomahawk slam. He practically whacked his right buttocks with the back of his hand. Though judging by the Hornets commentators reactions if only listened to the clip you would think Gay simply dribbled out of bounds and gave the ball back.
3: James Johnson cocked that joint back and banged on him
While this dunk was absolutely ferocious, the theatrics surrounding it made it even better. In the middle of a blowout in Auburn Hills where half the arena was filled with Raptors fans who made the trek across the bridge from the North, James Johnson took poor Andre Drummond’s soul. This play almost set off the Malice at the Palace redux as on the next play a very salty Drummond would hip check Johnson to the ground, causing now former Raptor Chuck Hayes to come in and teach the young Detroit centre some manners.
And of course who could forget Johnson’s now famous description of the events.
2. DeRozan skies over Mozgov
This dunk, along with the one over Singler earlier in this list is a microcosm of Raptors fans are always clamouring to see more out of from DeMar DeRozan. Rather than pulling up for a contest jumper, DeRozan took it to the rim with reckless abandon and fearlessly skied of Timofey Mosgov who is pretty much built like a Lakeshore condo. This dunk is probably the highlight of DeRozan’s career and one that is truly reminiscent of the original Air Canada.
1. Rafael Araujo: A god among mere mortals.
The legendary Rafael Araujo takes the top spot on this list, taking off from beyond the free throw line with his tongue hanging out finishing with enough force to register on the Richter scale…
Sorry, couldn’t resist. The real number one is a no brainer.
1. Terrence Ross goes Mile High over Kenneth Faried
Terrence Ross’ tenure with Toronto has certainly been a roller coaster ride. Even if he doesn’t turn it around and this is his final season in Toronto he will be forever ingrained in Raptors’ lore for two things; his 51 point eruption Vs the Clippers, and this unbelievable dunk over the Denver Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried. The video itself does not do this feat perfect justice but looking at a still photo of Ross at his absolute apex certainly does.