Of all the things LeBron James is good at—winning basketball games, driving a Kia, subtweeting teammates, etc., etc.—dunking is near the top of the list. LeBron’s jams are breathtaking because they fit perfectly into the flow of the game, and many are as unexpected as they are technically perfect. When Blake Griffin comes barreling down court, you know he’s preparing to take flight. Though LeBron has been known to throw down his signature tomahawk dunk when he’s alone on a fast break, his dunks can happen in any situation at any time.
Maybe LeBron snagged an offensive rebound under the rim, and before you can blink he’s powered back up through a canopy of bigs to jam the ball down on their heads. Or he might be in the midst of lassoing an overthrown alley-oop, one of those “there’s no way he throws this down, right?” moments before “oh wow, he did, never mind.”
For 13 seasons, LeBron has been ejecting fans from their seats like a jack in the box with his throwdowns, and the 2016 NBA playoffs have been no different. LeBron looks as fresh as he has in years, and we’ve ranked the 31-year-old’s best aerial assaults this postseason. Sit back and enjoy.
5. The Effortless One-Hand Alley-Oop
Bismack Biyombo has had himself a hell of an Eastern Conference Finals for the Toronto Raptors, but attempting to stop LeBron from throwing down this one-handed alley-oop was one of his poorer decisions. You can only keep a man apart from his true love for so long.
4. The Drive the Lane and Jam All Over Atlanta
This dunk could serve as a metaphor for the entire Atlanta Hawks-Cavs playoff matchup. One man dunking over an entire team as if he were alone in his home gym. Kyle Korver had no shot at guarding LeBron on the perimeter, and once the King left Korver in his rearview, a jam was inevitable.
3. The Reverse Bring It Around Town
LeBron must’ve been feeling extra spicy during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, as he shelved his typical one-handed reach back and slam—the one he executes on almost every fast break—and replaced it with this ridiculous reverse around the world throwdown that sent the Cavs bench and the crowd into a stupor. LeBron starts the dunk from just inside the free-throw line, so yeah, those 31-year-old legs look just fine.
2. The Stretch Armstrong
Look how high LeBron’s arm is at its peak. Look at it. Don’t look at me, look at his arm. It’s about halfway up the backboard. The basketball is looking down at the rim like, “Whoa, that’s a long way down, this is kind of scary, I’ve never been this high before!” If you’re on the Atlanta Hawks, this is what your nightmares are made of.
1. The Baseline Earth Shatterer
Words can’t do this thing justice. I’m actually surprised, though relieved for the fans at Quicken Loans Arena, that this dunk didn’t create a fault line down the center of the arena and split the court in two. The force with which LeBron throws this thing down, after blowing by Demarre Carroll on the baseline, is borderline illegal and wanted in all 50 states. How a person recovers and continues to play basketball after witnessing a play like this, sent down from the heavens themselves, is unfathomable.