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BURNING QUESTION
August 12, 2002
WHO WAS THE FIRST MAN TO DUNK?
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August 12, 2002

Burning Question

WHO WAS THE FIRST MAN TO DUNK?

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While the history of the dunk in women's basketball is well documented—from Georgeann Wells, the 6'7" West Virginia center who in 1984 became the first woman to throw down in competition, to 6'5" Lisa Leslie, whose breakaway jam on July 30 was a WNBA first—its evolution in the men's game isn't clear. Not even the research staff at the Basketball Hall of Fame is sure who made the first dunk in organized play. What is known is that the shot has been around nearly as long as the game itself (that means since the 1890s) and that in the 1940s Oklahoma A&M's 6'10" center Bob Kurland became the first college player to regularly use the dunk. Kurland jammed and slammed the Aggies to NCAA titles in 1945 and '46. In the early '50s, 6'5" Lakers forward Jim Pollard (a.k.a. the Kangaroo Kid) often amused himself by dunking in practice, but he never did it in games because NBA players considered the dunk a breach of etiquette. The shot only caught on after the 1976 merger with the ABA, where players like Julius Erving had been turning the dunk into an art form.

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