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How basketball’s first dunker won gold on Hitler’s home court

Discover the history behind the dazzling basketball play we've all come to know and love.

Every sport is the product of a long line of evolution. Today, we're seeing the product of a game that expanded far beyond the three-point line. Players like Steph Curry, James Harden, and Damian Lillard have shown fans and players alike what is possible when a team sets its sights downtown.

But even the common parts of the game — like the slam dunk — have a beginning.

While the history of the first dunk is a bit convoluted, there are some specific instances that helped give birth to basketball’s most explosive play. Perhaps the most meaningful of these moments in early dunking took place in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. While Jesse Owens was putting himself in the history books, basketball was enjoying its first year as an official Olympic contest, and both were under the shadow of Nazi Germany, with the world on the brink of war. It’s here that we circle the timeline and take a look at where basketball got its jam.