The system couldn’t be more flawed.
This silly game we play every Tuesday where we try to rank the greatest go to moves in NBA history. It has been tainted by the modern era. We are supposed to vote on what will go down as the most iconic and reliable moves ever performed by the greatest players of all time, but we only seem to select on the basis of virality. It seems that the only moves that advance are the ones that we’d be more likely to spend hours on the blacktop trying to do. The ones that are “more fun.”
Be honest, how do you explain Kyrie’s patented reverse making it to the finals while the Dream Shake and Kareem’s Skyhook got left behind in the opening round? It’s because there distinction between who’s voting on this bracket, and it’s not the people who grew up watching basketball in the 80s and 90s. This is meant to be something for ‘Basketball Twitter’ yet it seems as if NBATV is moderately unsure of their audience.
So I say screw it. Let’s go all in!
If the bracket’s already been taken over by the world of social media, than why not embrace it? Why not recreate this bracket, but with the moments we’ve witnessed in the era of the almighty powerful internet? Why don’t we re-seed the entire bracket to better fit what we want?
Before we do this, we need to lay down a few ground rules:
- These moments must have occurred during an in an NBA game. It doesn’t matter if it happened during preseason, regular season, playoffs or even the All-Star game, it just has to be in-game (sorry to anyone who was looking forward to VC’s dunk contest)
- Every player listed only gets to appear once (we need to have some sort of variety)
- These are things you’ve only seen a handful of times throughout NBA history (this is my attempt to stress unique occurrences)
- Only plays that occurred during or after the year 2000 will be placed into consideration (shouts to Y2K)
- None of these need to be signature moves, but they must be something that damn-near made your jaw drop (and probably gave an unexplained urgency to try it out on a local hoop)
16.) Not Your Average Alley-Oop
WTF Rating: Now wait just a damn minute!!
Before I try to get into how this play finished, let me get something out-of-the-way here: Wesley Johnson had no business passing the ball to Blake. Seriously, Johnson caught the ball while he was wide open, with only about 2.8 seconds remaining on the shot clock, and he passes it. Well, let’s all thank the Basketball Gods he did, because wow. Just wow.
Griffin’s pretty well-known for doing some things we’ve never seen before, but it’s almost always been with his dunks. To see him shooting a three is weird enough, but to seem him alley-ooping a three pointer is incredible. It’s unheard of. It’s downright amazing. It’s also something I tried many, many times after I saw this. (I failed.)
15.) Jae from 94 Feet
WTF Rating: Did… uh… did he mean to do that?
With time expiring in the first half, Jae Crowder heaved it 94 feet and he was right on the money. A little too on the money. Props to the Celtics for even attempting to go for a literal full-court alley-oop, because if you hadn’t, we wouldn’t have had the pleasure of watching this moment. This moment of utterly beautiful insanity.
Curse everyone who doesn’t think that this shot should have counted. I realize that the refs were just doing what was appropriate according to the rules, but Crowder earned something there. Especially after he got the opposing crowd to make that much noise after it went in. It was shocking to everyone in the arena and at home and it didn’t matter, because it didn’t count. Damn shame.
Quick note: The Celtics lost this game 100-98, so yeah…
14.) “Flash” is Just so Smooth
WTF Rating: Cool, like a penguin in a tank-top.
A game winning, double overtime three-point floater. Let that just settle-in for a second. That actually happened. Someone actually managed that. Off a last second steal too. And he had a timeout, so he didn’t need to heave it so far. When he was questioned about the shot, Wade had this to say: “When I got the steal what was going through my head was coach said, ‘we’ve got a timeout left. I was about to call it and than said, ‘nah’.” How incredible is that!?!
This is the kind of moment Wade and George Gervin were talking about in that Gatorade commercial. It’s one of those moments where he was cool, like a yeti eatin’ frozen spaghetti. So cool that it kind of looks like he made Brad Miller lose his cool.
13.) Aw Made You Look
WTF Rating: El-e-vation!!!
The two best highlight plays are those which display inhuman levels of athleticism, and those which happen in an instant. D Rose did both here. He went up and was about to do something that no basketball player ever should, then in mid-air, he changed his mind and still did something no basketball player ever should: a jumping pass.
It’s one of those moments when a coach is thinking, “No, no, no!!!” Then the play actually works out, and they’re like, “Aight.” I guess that’s most of what D Rose does nowadays, but at least he’s athletic enough to make it work about 60ish% of the time. Well, maybe not that high… no, definitely not that high.
12.) A Day in the Life: J Crossover
WTF Rating: “Shaaaabbat shalom and… BOOM!!!”
This isn’t the first time Jamal Crawford has used this move (he did it years ago, when he played for NYK), but I watched this moment live so I’ll include it in the list due to sentiment. Also, hot damn. Crawford absolutely embarrasses Ol’ Andre here, and I’m not even sure if I’d want to play anymore if that were to happen to me.
I can’t even count the amount of times I tried this move on the little kids on the sales floor of the Kids Foot Locker where I once worked. Let me tell you something, them chump-a** lil’ kids weren’t ready for it. Most of them weren’t even in kindergarten, but still… ain’t no excuses on these courts.
**Side note: I’m 100000% sure that Jamal Crawford has a whole arsenal of never before seen dribbling moves that he’s been withholding from the rest of the world. Talk about selfish.
11.) How to Get Away With Murder
WTF Rating: Good lord, JaVale… that man has a family!
The stare down though. McGee absolutely ripped this one out of Wes Matthews’ hands, and it’s just incredible how effortless he made it look (which by the way, it’s not). JaVale pulled a LaPhonso, and it’s ridiculous how smooth the actual block looked.
After everything that’s been happening with McGee over the past week, it can be very hard to remember just how much potential we all thought he had. It’s moments like these that we should remember him by, not the blunders that certain people seemed to hawk-out in order to further push… you know what, I’m not even going into to that right now. It’s honestly none of my business.
10.) Shammgod Alert!!!
WTF Rating: Whooooaaaa!! Spiderman!!!
Shammgod!!! We gotta shammgod siting!!! This is not a drill people!!!
I honestly don’t know what I love more, Westbrook pulling a shammgod or the fact that he executed it flawlessly against three players who weren’t even legally old enough to consume alcohol. (Tyler Ulis turned 21 years old the very next month.) He slices through Ulis like he’s a mannequin, then when he reaches Marquese Chriss he doesn’t go for a monstrous, life-taking dunk. Instead he chooses to jump in the air and pass it like a superhero.
** Little bit of “math”: glue-like handles + superhero jump-pass = Spiderman… so, if Russell Westbrook = glue-like handles + superhero jump-pass, then Russell Westbrook = Spiderman
9.) *Input Cheat Code Here*
WTF Rating: That’s just cold.
Yeah… I think we’re all Enes Kanter here, right? No one could believe why Curry would let it fly so far from the three-point arc (with enough time to reach another foot or two closer to the basket). He knew it was going in. We all did. There’s just no denying that. I think that what makes the shot so incredible. It’s so flashy/cocky/petty/middle fingeryish (?) that I can’t help but love it.
8.) Well… Once You Think About it, That’s Just Selfish
WTF Rating: *lowers rim to 9 feet*
Ladies and gentleman, this is the alley-oop that revolutionized all future alley-oops. It happened out of nowhere, and took the basketball world by storm. It’s ferocious, and it’s powerful enough to leave any crowd in awe and amazement. But, weirdly enough, McGrady kind of acted like it wasn’t that big of a deal. It probably wasn’t to him, but to us (the viewing audience) is was breath-taking.
I guess that’s just kind of how McGrady has always been, but you think someone would scream to yell once in a while. Especially after you just shocked the world. Then again, if you’re able to do this I think you can treat it in whichever way you like. I’m definitely not gonna tell you otherwise.
7.) Green got Mad Ups
WTF Rating: Hold up. *checks rim… lowers it to 8 feet* Okay, now we’re good.
ERGHIGEONVOSLAFOIELKDCAO!!!!!! LOOK AT HOW HIGH THIS MAN JUST JUMPED!!! His chin reached rim-level!!! You guys!! Chin!! Rim-level!! I think I saw Gerald Green fly for a little bit! Do yourself a favor and click the little gear that says “settings” in the bottom right corner, then click on speed and set it to 0.5. Then try to tell me he didn’t fly. I dare you to try to say otherwise.
6.) “White Chocolate” is sooo smoooooth
WTF Rating: wut.
Damn you, Twitter, for not being created when this play happened. Could you imagine how much fun Twitter would have been if it had. Everything about this clip damn-near fills out the perfect highlight checklist:
- In transition: check
- It comes out of nowhere: check
- Sick pass: check
- It’s done by the one American white guy on the floor: check
- Completed layup: X (I’m very disappointed in you, Raef LaFrentz)
5.) Giannis Antetoccordian
WTF Rating: HOLY ISSHHH!!!
Can we all agree right now, that next All-Star weekend we should have a competition to measure the arm lengths of Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert? We all know we wanna see it, so we may as well organize it. Especially considering they are quite possibly the only players athletic and long enough to do this dunk, from that far away from the basket.
You know what? No. Just no. I refuse to believe that Giannis Antetokounmpo is actually human. If he is, then I’m no longer worthy of being labeled as such. There’s just no way we’re the same species. I mean, I this is just unreal. He goes up, then he’s going down and suddenly he’s back up again. It just doesn’t add up to me.
WTF Rating: Ouch!!
I’ll be real with you here, when I first saw this block by Nate Robinson, I literally thought I could do anything. We’re talking about a point guard who’s only 5’9″ but still managed to absolutely obliterate the 7’6″ center that is Yao Ming, who was attempting what should have been an easy two-points. Krypto-Nate had other plans though. Robinson turned a routine play from the Rockets into a block heard ’round the world.
He just completely elevated to a level that just makes him appear superhuman. Maybe we should be used to that, considering he’s the only ever three-time Slam Dunk Champion, but the more I watch it, the more impossible it looks. I mostly just can’t get over how he actually managed to get a clean block here. Like, how? It just doesn’t make any sense, and I love it!
3.) Booker Just Glitched Real Life
WTF Rating: Wait… WHAAAAAAAAA?!?!?!?!?!?
You can’t convince me that this isn’t some sort of miracle play that was bestowed upon Trevor Booker by the basketball gods. There’s just so much going on that makes this perfect, but it starts with the absolute disbelief shown by Gordon Hayward after that went in. It really was the physical embodiment of what we all felt inside: pure amazement.
Shots like this just don’t happen in the middle of a game. If you try to tell me that you didn’t immediately try this on the nearest basketball hoop to you, then I will fight you. You and I both know that just like The Starters, we all tried this with our friends a couple dozen times until that shot finally went through. But when it finally did, boy did it feel glorious! Well maybe you weren’t as excited as Tas Melas was, but still.
2.) Ish Smith ain’t Here for Your, Well… Ish
WTF Rating: hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha *deep breath* hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
Can you imagine being John Wall in that situation? How weird must that have been for him? Like, do you feel amazement or embarrassment here? I genuinely don’t know. Seriously, no one can say that Ish Smith doesn’t try enough after literally jumping over another man, then landing and turning round and successfully blocking the guy you just jumped over.
Thankfully, I’m not an NBA player (secretly sobbing inside) and I don’t have to worry about something like this happening to me at work. Because goodness gracious, I don’t know if I could survive this happening to me. Like, I’d have to fight Ish Smith here and I know my 5’10” 146 lb half-Korean ass is losing that battle.
1.) “The King” Does Whatever “The King” Pleases
WTF Rating: HOLD UP! *checks rim… lowers it to seven feet… grabs baby brother* AIGHT BET!!
I…I umm… I don’t think I really need to explain this one. But if I need to, I guess I should probably warn you about trying this one at home. You may… uhh… hurt someone. Maybe even yourself. (cue demon voice) Do it, my child! Gain your power, and conquer the basketball world!! THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES!!!!!!