6. Emphatic Throwdown Over Emeka Okafor
Crime Date: April 26, 2011
Scene of the Crime: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Victim(s): Emeka Okafor
Accomplice(s): Pau Gasol
From the moment he stepped into the NBA, Emeka Okafor was known as one of the league’s premier shot blockers. Though he never became the star some projected, he was one of the league’s elite interior defenders for a number of years.
In 2011, the Lakers faced a feisty New Orleans Hornets team in the first round of the playoffs. They were shockingly able to split the first four games of the series, leading to a crucial Game 5 at Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant had begun relying less on his athleticism at this point in his career, but he still had some springs when necessary. Pau Gasol would make a quick pass to a wide-open Kobe at the top of the key.
Kobe took one dribble before elevating, and cocking his arm all the way back before throwing down a thunderous slam over Okafor. The dunk energized the team, and the crowd, as the Lakers would go on to win the game and the series.
The slam is one of the best of Kobe’s later career, but ultimately just missed out on making the top-5 despite being one of my personal favorites.