Slam dunks – or called dunks – are a type of basketball shot consisting of a player jumping in the air and scoring by jamming the ball straight through the basket while touching the rim with one or both hands. Depending on the complexity of the performed moves, we can distinguish between various types of dunks: Tomahawk, Windmill, Elbow Hang, Alley-oop, Between the Legs, Free Throw Line, Reverse, 360, Double Clutch, etc.
Slam dunks are not only spectacular to see but also among the highest percentage shots. Since basketball fans highly appreciate this type of shot, slam dunk contests (e.g., NBA Slam Dunk Contest) have become a regular crowd-pleasing activity.
Even though slam dunks are hard to miss, it doesn’t mean they are easy to perform. On the contrary, performing a slam dunk implies defying the laws of gravity and risk-taking and a unique mix of athletic abilities. Many coaches are against performing slam dunks in competitive play due to the risks of injury.
The first documented dunk sends us back in time, in 1936, when Joe Fortenberry scored the first dunk in an organized game while training for the Olympics (Berlin). Since then, slam dunks have come a long way, making their way into the WNBA as well.
Dunks in WNBA History
In women’s basketball, dunking is less frequent than in men’s play. Since height plays a crucial role in dunking and female basketball players have a shorter average height than male players, there aren’t many females who dunk.
The average WNBA player is only 5’9’’, while the average NBA player is 6’6”. In fact, with 7’ 2’’, Malgorzata Dydek holds the record for the tallest female basketball player in the history of WNBA, followed by Zheng Haixia (6’8.5”).
Back in 1978, Cardte Hicks became the first female basketball player to dunk in a pro game. This happened in the Netherlands, during a men’s professional game. In 1984, a 6’7″ junior who was playing for West Virginia University against the University of Charleston, became the first female basketball player to dunk in women’s collegiate play. Her name is Georgeann Wells.
Since WNBA was formed in 1997, only seven players have managed to dunk. As of September 2021, only 28 dunks have been scored in the WNBA.
Here are the seven female basketball players who have managed to break the 10-foot barrier:
#1 LISA LESLIE
t was Lisa Leslie who, on July 30, 2002, scored the first dunk in the history of WNBA. She was playing for the Los Angeles Sparks against the Miami Sol. However, this was only the beginning, as Lisa would score her second dunk on July 9, 2005, against the same team.
Here she is, working her magic!
#2 MICHELLE SNOW
One year after Leslie’s second dunk, Michelle Snow became the second WNBA player to score a dunk in a game. Michelle stands out for achieving an impressive reverse dunk.
You can watch her in action here. Michelle managed to dunk in an All-Star game.
#3 CANDACE PARKER
Back in 2008, during a regular-season game for the Los Angeles Sparks, Candace Parker would dunk in the final seconds of the game. That same season, Candace would dunk again.
You can watch her dunk here!
#4 SYLVIA FOWLES
Even though Sylvia Fowles is not as popular as the other female basketball players present on this list, she is among the few women who are able to dunk. Just like Michelle Snow, Sylvia Fowles dunked during an all-star game in 2009. She dunked at the end of the game and her dunk was largely uncontested.
You can watch her dunk here.
#5 BRITTNEY GRINER
An impressive athlete who stands at 6’’ 8’, Brittney Griner holds the absolute record for the most dunks in the history of the WNBA. While playing as a high school senior, Brittney dunked 52 times, setting the single-game record of no less than 7 dunks. She debuted in the WNBA on May 27, 2013. In 2013, during her debut for the Phoenix Mercury, she dunked twice. As of October 2021, Brittney Griner has dunked 23 times: 17 times in the regular season, once in the playoffs, and 5 times in the All-Star Game. And she doesn’t seem willing to stop dunking!
Here you can see some of her best dunks.
#6 JONQUEL JONES
In 2017, in her first All-Star Game, Jonquel Jones dribbled diagonally across key and scored an impressive one-handed dunk. What makes Jonquel Jones stand out is that, at 6’’6’, she is among the shortest players in the WNBA who have dunked!
Check out her dunk here!
#7 LIZ CAMBAGE
In 2012, at the London Olympics, Liz Cambage was playing for the Australian Opals against Russia. Even if her dunk was not as impressive as other dunks on this list, she made history as she became the first female basketball player to dunk in an Olympic game. Six years later, in 2018, she will dunk again during an All-Star Game.
Here you can watch the moment when history was made!
Even if dunking is still far from being commonplace in the WNBA, these seven inspiring female basketball players have been able to fly high and revolutionize the women’s game. So, for now there were 28 dunks in WNBA history. It will be interesting to see how the WNBA will evolve in the upcoming years.
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