Throwback Throwdowns: Shawn Kemp Dunks on Golden State

Shawn Kemp (R) tries to back down Hakeem Olajuwon
Pete LEVINE/AFP/Getty Images

There are some NBA players whose ability to dunk the basketball will forever stand the test of time. The ones that folks immediately associate with some instance when they destroyed either a defender, a rim, or the opposition as a whole with one of their freakish displays of athletic dominance. If you find yourself listed among these individuals, congratulations. You’ve officially made it.

If you’re a fan of the game, then you know exactly who we’re talking about. The people who are most likely to put someone on a poster. The players whose reputations are built on making others look like they don’t even belong on the same court as them. Vince Carter, for one, usually heads the top of this particular list. He was so unbelievably gifted that you got the feeling even he didn’t fully realize the extent of his powers. How else could he have the fortitude to jump over a 7-footer while attacking the basket?

Of course, Carter is far from the only historical dunker that’s taken this feat to new heights. For some, it’s an art form. Others, it almost seems like a higher calling. And when we think about individuals who fall into the latter category, our mind immediately goes to Shawn Kemp.

Throughout his 14-year career, Kemp had plenty of memorable dunks. However, if there was one moment that tends to rise above the rest, we’ll have to go all the way back to the 1992 NBA Playoffs. Only then can we fully appreciate the beauty that would become known as the “Lister Blister.” So sit back, relax, and enjoy another edition of “Throwback Throwdowns.”

On April 30, 1992, the Seattle SuperSonics and Golden State Warriors took the floor for Game 4 of the 1992 Western Conference First Round. While this would turn out to be the closeout game of the series for the Sonics, no one could’ve possibly predicted how memorable one particular sequence would prove to be. Then again, when you’re talking about Shawn Kemp, anything was possible.

Down 47-46 with six minutes left in the second quarter, Seattle had the ball, looking to take the lead. Kemp caught the cross-court pass just inside the three-point line on the right side of the court, and that was all she wrote. He took one power dribble into the lane, cupped the rock, and pulled it back as he took flight. Unfortunately for Golden State’s 7-footer Alton Lister, he picked the wrong time to step up and try to take the charge.

With power, strength, and pure athleticism, Kemp not only emphatically put Lister on a poster, he knocked him to the floor with a thunderous knee to the chest. As the Seattle crowd went crazy, Kemp added insult to injury by “double-pointing” at Lister as he lay on the floor. It was the ultimate “in your face” moment. And everyone knew it. With one dunk, Kemp had officially brought the reign for the whole world to see.

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