Few things get fans as excited as a player with a soaring vertical leap. While there have been many high-flyers in NBA history, some rose above even the most legendary leapers to secure their place in basketball mythology. FadeawayWorld.net recently compiled a list of the highest verticals in NBA history, and these were the results.
5. Jason Richardson, 46 inches
Jason Richardson was the face of the high-flyers in the era after Vince Carter put on his legendary dunk clinic in 2000. While Carter is known for his legendary dunking, Richardson has three inches on the NBA’s iron man. His performances in the dunk contest still hold up to this day.
Richardson was an integral part of the “We Believe” Warriors who swept the league nearly a decade before the current Golden State Warriors. Richardson’s later career was marred with injuries that cost him the athleticism he had as a younger player.
4. Zach LaVine, 46 inches
Zach LaVine has given NBA fans some of the best dunking performances of the modern era. During a time when many people relied on props to elevate their dunks, LaVine brought the dunk contest back to the basics. This does not mean he steered clear of the gimmicks, but he let his dunks speak for themselves.
His contest against Aaron Gordon was one of the greatest in NBA history. LaVine, now with the Chicago Bulls, continues to throw the ball down with ease, but he’s expanded his game in a way that’s less dependent on his athleticism and made himself a complete basketball player.
3. Michael Jordan, 46 inches
When your nickname is “Air Jordan” and your logo is the Jumpman, you better be able to prove it. Before Michael Jordan was known for his dominance in the ’90s, his high-flying dunks were his main claim to fame.
His dunk from the free-throw line in the 1988 dunk contest wasn’t the first, nor last dunk of its kind, but it’s the most iconic ever. Jordan has shown an ability to get up high well into his fifties, too, as videos of him practicing with his Charlotte Hornets occasionally comes out. Footage shows the aging superstar throwing down the ball like someone half his age.
2. Darrell Griffith, 48 inches
Darrell Griffith may not be a name that sticks out to a modern audience, but his high-flying dunks made him a Utah Jazz favorite leading up to the John Stockton and Karl Malone era. Griffith also earned himself a Hall of Fame nickname in the form of “Dr. Dunkenstein.” Griffith, a Rookie of the Year winner, showed promise before a foot injury took him down.
Fans of the dunk contest may remember Jazz star Donovan Mitchell taking off his own jersey to reveal a Griffith jersey. The two maintain a bond off the court.
1. Wilt Chamberlain, 48 inches
For a 7-foot-1 giant to have a 48-inch vertical is borderline unfair. In a time where size was not as common as it is today, Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain didn’t necessarily need to have these heights to dominate. The fact that he could jump four feet in the air, however, was icing on the cake.
Reflecting on a bygone era, people often claim that Chamberlain wouldn’t be a dominant center in the modern era, but his combination of height, skill, and athleticism would likely translate into any year he played. Would he have put up 50 points and 26 rebounds a game in 2019? Likely not. But Chamberlain had the tools to play in any NBA era.