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These are the top five dunks by WNBA players...and no, they aren’t all by Brittney Griner

No, the best dunks by WNBA players do not all belong to Brittney Griner. In fact, women hoopers have been slamming it home since well before BG’s time.

2014 Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star Game
Brittney Griner sizes up a slam at the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game.
Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

A lot of us may not know the story of the first recorded dunk in organized basketball.

A 6-foot-8 Texan by the name of Joe Fortenberry stunned the crowd at the 1936 Berlin Olympics when he pulled off the move and helped the US men’s national team snag the gold medal. Nearly 10 years later, Bob Kurland became the first college student to slam the ball through the basket when he spontaneously performed his own dunk during an NCAA game.

In these early days, the dunk was considered too flashy and disrespectful to the opponent. While shades of that attitude still exist in both the men’s and women’s game today, the dunk has evolved over the decades into a move that is nearly ubiquitous.

It would be three decades before a women’s basketball player would dunk. But when it happened, it happened in spectacular fashion. Approximately 20 years before the founding of the WNBA, there was the WBL (Women’s Professional Basketball League), which was established in 1978 and lasted until 1981. Cardte Hicks, who was born and raised near Los Angeles and played for the WBL’s San Francisco Pioneers, became the first woman to dunk in a professional game.

Hicks later told Las Vegas’ CBS News 8, “Women, young girls at the time… we’re not supposed to be out there playing. They wanted us in the kitchen. They wanted us playing with dolls.” She paused. “I got an army set for Christmas.”

Since Hicks’ successful slam, there have been 33 dunks recorded in WNBA history. Of those, the Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner has pulled off a massive 23 of them! With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top five dunks by WNBA players… and only give Griner one of the spots.

5. Lisa Leslie makes the first dunk in WNBA history

There is no way to talk WNBA players’ dunks without Leslie, who authored the incredible first-ever dunk in league history. Leslie’s Los Angeles Sparks were playing the Miami Sol on Jul. 30, 2002, when she snagged the ball and ran toward the hoop unimpeded, completing the historic slam.

Leslie later admitted that the moment was born of anger, as the Sparks were behind and she was frustrated as all get out. As she told Bleacher Report in 2021:

In the moment, our team was losing and I wasn’t happy. I remember huddling our team and said we had to pick it up. We picked up our defense and my teammate stole me the ball and I was heading down the court and just dunked it in first out of anger that we were down. Then, once the crowd reacted I realized what I had done.

4. Liz Cambage shuts down the London Olympics in 2012

As a member of the Australian women’s national team at the London Games, Cambage decided to take things up a notch and razzle dazzle us. Fresh off being drafted by the Tulsa Shock in 2011, Cambage made her first dunk — and the first women’s dunk in Olympics history — at the 2012 Games.

Like Leslie, Cambage made it look easy. Australia was battling Russia when — all of the sudden, for no real reason at all — a lane opened up and she literally stepped right into it. The next thing anyone knew, history had been made.

3. Candace Parker dunks in back-to-back games

During a game against the Indiana Fever during her 2008 rookie season with the Sparks, Parker surprised everyone by skying for a slam in the contest’s final seconds. Not to be outdone — by her own self — Parker completed another dunk in the Sparks’ very next game against the Seattle Storm.

2. Sylvia Fowles goes out with a bang

A number of dunks have been made during WNBA All-Star Games, including one by Fowles in 2009. But, at last season’s All-Star Game, Fowles topped them all, delivering an epic farewell to the WNBA with her breakaway dunk.

1. Brittney Griner’s first WNBA dunk

When it comes to Griner, it’s almost unfair to select her most impactful dunk.

After all, this is the player who dunked over 50 times in college and who easily leads the WNBA in dunks. Instead of trying to sift through the many slams Griner has pulled off (so far), let’s dial it all the way back to her first dunk in 2013.

In true BG fashion, she did it in the biggest way possible — in her first WNBA game. And for the record, she actually dunked twice in her WNBA debut, becoming the first player to achieve that feat. Griner is showing few signs of slowing down, so it’s likely there are many (many) more dunks in her future.