The free throw line dunk has survived generation after generation as the most impressive feat of athleticism on a basketball court. Julius Erving became the first man to try in the 1976 dunk contest, Michael Jordan popularized it a decade later in the same event, and ever since we’ve seen everyone from Brent Barry to Serge Ibaka or Zach LaVine (with a windmill thrown in for good measure) try it.
What you don’t see often is someone trying a free throw line dunk in a game. There are only two that come to mind in the modern history of the NBA: a young LeBron James, in his first stint with the Cavs, getting damn close on a breakaway against the Bucks, and Giannis Antetokounmpo going one step inside the line in the playoffs vs. the Pistons back in 2019.
We have a new entry into the hallowed group of in-game free throw line dunk attempters, and it comes from a role player, not a superstar. Toronto Raptors big man Chris Boucher raced down the court in the third quarter against the Pelicans on Thursday, and, well, see for yourself:
CHRIS BOUCHER TOOK FLIGHT.— NBA (@NBA) February 24, 2023
WATCH: https://t.co/1pomQZMAZK pic.twitter.com/2xy2aDuUks
Is it a free throw line dunk? Not quite, but it’s about as close as you will ever see in a game.
Here’s Boucher’s takeoff point:
Boucher only took one dribble after halfcourt. As he made his strides to the basket, he realized he wasn’t going to be allowed another step before takeoff. He just had to go for it, and he finished with the dunk anyway. I’d say he had enough pop that he could have probably made it from the actual line itself.
I’d say Giannis’ dunk in the playoffs was juuust a little longer, but it’s close.
Boucher is a truly awesome in-game dunker. Here are a bunch of examples.
I’ve been writing about Boucher for years as one of the biggest underdogs in the NBA. It’s very cool to see him get a moment like this.