Amar’e Stoudemire lists Kobe Bryant All-Star alley-oop as a top dunk
Aug 11, 2023, 12:40 PM
Long-time Phoenix Suns fans can probably pick out the same two best dunks of Amar’e Stoudemire’s career, hard as it might be considering the library full of options.
His rookie-year slam on Los Angeles Clippers center Michael Olowokandi might’ve marked Stoudemire’s arrival as one of the most devastating dunkers in team — and maybe league — history.
Fittingly, the final year of his Suns career in 2010 bookended everything in between when he mashed on Golden State Warriors forward Anthony Tolliver, who four years later when he signed with Phoenix in 2014 had to answer questions about the play as a downer during his introductory press conference.
But what’s one Stoudemire banger that he remembers perhaps more than fans?
“There’s also a play in the All-Star game when Kobe Bryant threw me a lob from halfcourt and I was able to catch it and kind of windmill to the other side of the basketball and dunk it through,” Stoudemire told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta.
“Being the late great Kobe Bryant, bless the memory, having that opportunity to catch that lob from him was also one of my favorites.”
Stoudemire was a rim-rolling force from the jump of his career.
The ninth overall pick in 2002 quickly set himself apart with not only his leaping ability but his mid-air strength — from fingers to body control that allowed him to finish through contact.
“My mindset was to dominate,” Stoudemire said. “That was my only mindset, and every night I played with that type of mentality. There was no finger roles for me. I wanted to let the fans know, the opposing team, the opposing team fans that I’m here, we’re here.”
Amar’e Stoudemire’s other best dunks
His rookie year, he tagged Olowokandi with a soaring slam, seemingly from a standstill, off a Stephon Marbury bounce-pass.
It induced a wincing grimace from Marbury that emphasized just how nasty that high-rising, one-handed finish was from feet away.
“I was able to catch it and basically almost jump over Michael Olowokandi,” Stoudemire said. “Olawankandi was a great defensive player at that time, he was the first pick in the draft (in 1998), he was known for his shot-blocking.
“I threw it down with so much force — when you’re in the gym you can hear that power, you can hear that rim rattle. I think that’s what made Stephon Marbury make that face. It was so loud.”
Another top-five slam, on Tolliver in 2010, came in clutch time with Phoenix down by three against a young Stephen Curry and Co.
“That’s definitely one of (the top dunks) because that game was tight,” Stoudemire said. “I think that play somewhat changed the momentum of that game.”
Stoudemire’s free throw off the and-one tied the game, and he scored seven more points in the final 2:33 of the 133-131 win.
It kept a mid-March winning streak alive that would reach 10 as the Suns set up the standings well enough and hit a stride heading into a deep playoff run that ended in the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.