Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Seven Most Unstoppable Moves in the NBA.

Tony Kornheiser said the other day that the reason people don't watch the NBA is because the players are too good. And to an extent, that is true. NBA players are so good that they really make difficult things look mundane. Casual basketball fans, or even some avid ones, sometimes don't fully understand just how hard some of the things are that these guys do.

And not even things like Vince Carter jumping over some random seven footer or Rip Hamilton running his man off 14 screens before draining a 15-foot jumper, things the average guy sitting on the couch or the bar stool knows he can't do. I mean things just like a guy catching a pass in transition and hitting an open three or someone driving, absorbing contact and still being able to finish. You see them on highlights so much that you just expect it to happen and don't really appreciate it for how difficult it is. Sometimes it doesn't work out, and you'll hear "Oh, c'mon, it was a layup! I coulda made that!" or "He was wide open! What are they paying you for, anyways?"

And do you know who's fault that is? The super-duper stars. They make it look too easy, like they aren't even trying. The king of this is Tracy McGrady, who looks like he would rather be napping insted of scoring 35 on someone. But when those superstars really do try to score, they are unstoppable. No single human being on the planet can stop them. If there was a one-on-one contest in Vegas this weekend among the NBA elite, it would never end, because sans double teams, these guys are scoring every single time. No exceptions. They have moves that are impossible to stop.

So what are these moves, you ask? Well, why don't you just pull up a seat and let me tell you.

Ray Allen's Jumper. Alright, we are starting off with something that really isn't a move, per se, but it is just so damn pretty I had to put it on here. The release is so pure - the wrist just flicks the ball towards the rim, spinning it perfectly. The ball positively tears through the net; there may not be a prettier sound in the world. Whap! Then the ball rests in the nylon for a split second, almost pausing to admire what it has just done, and then falls peacefully to the floor, like it was meant to do nothing else. Poetry, really.

Paul Pierce's Pull Up J. Here's what Pierce does, and so do a lot of other players, but Pierce is the first one I remember doing it regularly, and I think he is the best at it. After he has beaten you to the rim a few times, you're expecting drive again. He dribbles once or twice with the left hand, and then starts the motion to cross over, raising his shoulders and moving his hands to simulate the beginning of the move. It really looks like he's about to cross over, only at the absolute last second, he aborts it and rises fluidly into his jumper. The defender is low and backing up, having recognized the crossover's commencement, and is helpless to rise up and challenge the shot. Pierce gets a clean look at the rim, which he usually buries. Unless you are waiting for it, there is just no way to stop it. Just pray he misses. All you can do.

KG's Baseline Fade Away. Length, athleticism, quickness. Garnett sets his defender up for this beautifully with a quick shoulder twitch to the middle, and by the time the D reacts, he is already spinning towards the baseline. He is so damn long you aren't going to block it anyways, but he is so athletic that he jumps higher and further back than anybody else possibly could in a fade away. Plus, he shoots it well above his head. The separation he gets is phenomenal.

Dwyane Wade's Spin. Perhaps the best move in the world, ever. I mean, how are you supposed to deal with this?

Dirk's Foul Line Fade Away. Kinda like Garnett's, but not really. Garnett is trying to out-athletic you, out jump you. Dirk has no such aspirations; I don't even think he leaves the floor to jump. He just knows that because of his perimeter skills, team's have no choice but to guard him with someone smaller and quicker. So he'll catch the ball on the perimeter, and patiently and methodically work his way to the foul line area. Once he's there, he shows you his back, leans back, and releases. It's that simple, but I don't think I've ever seen it blocked, and he's so good at it it is basically a layup. Maybe in the past you could play him to it, but now he's a threat to get to the rim, too, so good luck.

LeBron's Hesitation. Either in transition or at the top of the key. Really, I just feel bad for the guy in his way. Hell, sometimes two or three people can't stop it because he's such a freight train. Remember him carrying Pistons defenders to the rim in the playoffs last year like he was Mark Bravaro fighting for two extra yards? In transition, he is getting to the rim; all he does is pause for a moment to make the defender think, and then he is blowing right by them. Same thing in the half court: unless you are constantly backing up, he is by you. It is so effective and works because he is so strong. He's strong enough to take the contact from the initial defender and then from the help defender and still finish. If I was guarding him, I would pray he was shooting jumpers that day.

Kobe Bryant's Jab Series. Kobe Bryant is the only player I have ever seen pick up his dribble on the perimeter and then still jab himself enough space to get off his jumper. Seriously. He doesn't even need his dribble to back the defender up. I wish I could explain how he does that, but I really have no idea. Houdini doesn't. When he does have a dribble, fuggitaboudit. He will get to where ever he wants. It really is incredible how far up he backs guys just by jabbing his right foot at them. And it is a threat to happen every single time he catches the ball. Back when he shot every time, he must have scared the shit out of defenders. I mean, he probably still does, but there really isn't the thought of 81 looming over their heads anymore. Scary as hell.

Allen Iverson's Crossover. Yea, I know we aren't breaking any new ground here, and it's been around for a while, but it is still the gold standard of NBA moves. He doesn't do it as much anymore, and he isn't as vicious with it as he used to be (like when he got MJ) but when he does break it out, the defender is worthless. He just gets served, every time. Ask Antonio Daniels. It's like the good china you don't break out for every meal, but when it does come out, you know there is something to get excited about. Plus he has that sweet finish where he will come from the right side, drive past the rim, all the way to the left side of the rim, and then shoot back at the basket, falling away. It has been dissected countless times - remember that commercial with Pat Croce, I think? - but it's worth it. If you want to call it the single most unstoppable move in NBA history, you won't get an argument out of me.

What moves did I leave off the list? I know there's a few...

4 comments so far. Might as well add your own.:

BCWho? said...

what about Timmy "I hate gays" Hardaway killer crossover? Yeah I know he's not in the league anymore... I just really wanted to call him that.

xfactor said...

Remember the X-factor's b/w the legs shot from anywhere on the court


T-Mac's behind the back pass -- used to take out the other teams superstar...aka...pass into the face of x-factor

TheNumberZero said...

i'm a big fan of wade using ball screens, or should i say, not using them and splitting ball screens and putting his nuts in someones face

twins15 said...

I'd maybe go with Tim Duncan's post up, turn around bank shot... other than that, great list!