'I still can get up there': The NBA coaches that rattle the rim -- and one that can windmill

“YEAHHH!” ORLANDO MAGIC players hollered in unison as coach Jamahl Mosley turned and started his approach, chopping his feet to check the grip on the soles of his Nikes.

It was Nov. 8, and practice was winding down inside the Arena Ciudad de Mexico, one day before the Magic faced the Atlanta Hawks in the annual NBA Mexico Game.

Moments earlier, point guard Markelle Fultz had issued the challenge to his 45-year-old coach with the entire team huddled at midcourt.

“Come on, Coach, you said we gotta bring it,” Fultz told Mosley, who stays in shape with mixed martial arts training and occasionally jumps into drills during practices to ramp up the intensity. “All right, you go to get one in.”

Mosley knew exactly what Fultz meant: A demand for the 6-8 third-year coach to throw down a dunk.

Mosley took one dribble just outside the 3-point line and then committed a massive traveling violation, taking 10 steps before leaping off his left foot with the ball in his right hand. Players giddily jogged behind their coach and jumped when he finally took off.

Mosley’s vertical proved just enough, as he squeaked the ball over the rim and through the net, much to the delight of his players. Most were toddlers during his globetrotting career for teams in Mexico, Australia, Spain, Finland and South Korea in the early 2000s.

“That was a strong 4 [out of 10],” Mosley told ESPN later this season. “I didn’t want five attempts. I didn’t want to have to do that. One and done.”

Mosley had to get the dunk. “That’s why I tried to grab the ball with the most grip,” he said.

Mosley is one of a handful of NBA coaches who are still capable of fulfilling such an above-the-rim request. New Orleans Pelicans’ Willie Green, Houston Rockets’ Ime Udoka, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Darvin Ham and Detroit Pistons’ Monty Williams — listed from youngest to oldest — are other confirmed dunkers among the league’s coaching fraternity.

It’s a source of pride for the coaches to continue to be able to dunk years after their playing careers ended, and in some cases, it plays a role in building teams’ culture and camaraderie.

Mosley used to be a prolific dunker, as proven by a highlight video tweeted by the official account of Australia’s NBL when the Magic hired him in 2021. That video featured some ferocious slams that Mosley celebrated by pretending to pop his collar with his right hand and then his left, providing comedic fodder for Orlando’s players.

His hair and hops have faded in the decades since, but he was still up for the challenge in Mexico City.

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Magic forward Franz Wagner described the dunk as “not a super clean one” but satisfying, adding that it captured the joy that Mosley brings to the gym.

“It shows the standing that Mose has,” Wagner told ESPN. “Everybody really likes to play for him and really respects him for what he brings every day and what he’s created in this organization. I think it’s just a special vibe.”

If players want an encore performance, they’ll have to wait. Mosley dunks once per year, just to make sure.

“I got mine this year,” Mosley said with a big grin above gray whiskers on his chin. “I don’t know how many more years I got that.”

HAM’S DUNKING résumé is unmatched among the league’s active coaches. Immortalized on a famous Sports Illustrated cover, Ham threw down an iconic dunk in college, shattering the backboard on a two-handed putback during Texas Tech’s win against North Carolina in the second round of the 1996 NCAA tournament.

As an undrafted rookie, the 6-7 Ham participated in the NBA dunk contest — won by a fellow rookie named Kobe Bryant — at the 1997 All-Star Weekend, highlighted by him smacking the glass with his left hand en route to a 360 slam.

That, unlike his March Madness highlight, isn’t a fond memory.

“Still brings me pain,” Ham told ESPN earlier this season, still stung that the judges eliminated him after the first round. “I got ripped off, to put it simply.”