Shawn Kemp. He could be the most underrated dunker in NBA history. Kemp was a player that defied gravity in the game of basketball. A player that was athletic when he came onto the scene his rookie year, he had a tough time finding his place in the NBA. He was the first of his kind, a player that looked to dunk or be explosive at the rim for his offensive moves. There were very few players that had the caliber of athleticism Kemp did. Let’s take a look at why I think Shawn Kemp left a legacy of athleticism and the way we know dunks today.
This could be my favorite video on Youtube for good reason. Kemp rattled the rims of Seattle Coliseum on a nightly basis. Some of the dunks that we can see in this video, would never be performed by a power forward in today’s game. A six-time All-Star, Kemp was a player that used his size and athleticism to excel in the games that he played. In 1996, Shawn Kemp was teamed up with Gary Payton as they took the Supersonics to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1979. They eventually lost to the 72 win Chicago Bulls, but Kemp’s presence was exemplified when he averaged 23.3 points on 55% from the field, along with 10 rebounds per game. Kemp had stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Trailblazers, and Magic, but the prime of his career was spent in Seattle where his presence is still known today as one of the best dunkers the NBA has seen today.
Kemp’s Legacy Today
In today’s game we have players who exemplify the athleticism that Kemp had. We have had players who can dunk come and go in the NBA. Darius Miles, Stromile Swift, and Desmond Mason come to mind. These players had the dunking ability, but lacked the other skills sets that made Kemp so great. Today we have Blake Griffin and LeBron James who have the jumping ability that Kemp had, but compliment that with the inside game that makes them so great today.
Kemp left behind a legacy of a player who can “jump through the roof” and had a defensive presence that made opposing players think twice of going inside on him. Big men around the league attempted to stop the high flying Kemp, but they were usually unsuccessful. I wish there were more exciting players in the game today like Kemp, our league today is turning into a three point shooting league. The fans around the world love that, but if we had more players like Kemp who are “rim rockers” it would be a great compliment to the three shooting of today.