The Greatest NBA Signature Moves Of All Time

Last Updated on April 1, 2023 by

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One thing is certain. If you are a true basketball lover, then every time you step inside the court, you must be trying hard to imitate a move or two of your NBA role model at a certain point in time. Ask anyone what the defining part of a basketball player’s game is? Thus a player’s efficiency, unique skill, style, and creativity give birth to the signature shots.

Here we shall focus upon some of the greatest NBA signature moves of all time. Ultimately these signature moves are something that make the players so different than others. Because there are rules placed on the table to limit physical contact by the defenders. Sometimes also the inability of defenders to read the mind of opponents plays a key role.

So, what does that actually mean? You know that’s coming, everybody knows it’s coming, but you can’t do anything to prevent your opposition player. And you get roasted by your opponent’s preferred method of attack. So, the scorer brings out his favourite move time and time again. This is how signature basketball moves are born.

People fall in love with these signature shots made by players. So they gradually become a fan of that individual too. Kids from all over the world try to copy these best basketball moves in their own backyard. This is so true, and you want your kids to be motivated.

That innovative cool headed amazing moves catch defenders off guard everytime. Over the years, the NBA has seen some memorable signature shots that are still very fresh in our memory. So, today let’s take you back to the good old days where we take a look at the 25 greatest signature moves in NBA history. Let’s find out why they are regarded as the best NBA moves of all time.

1. George Gervin’s Finger Roll:

George Gervin is regarded as one of the greatest shooting guards in NBA history. His nickname was “The Iceman”. Gervin’s finger roll is one of the best moves in basketball in NBA history. Gervin’s intent was to lope through the lane and roll the ball ever so softly off his fingertips. Though it was not something like Allen Iverson’s crossover and didn’t quite match the baffling movement of Ginobili’s Eurostep.

Yet something was fascinating about this finger roll, and everyone feared it. Though the finger roll is a very challenging shot, it still remains one of the highest percentage shots to go through the basket. Gervin turned the shot into a nearly invincible weapon when top charting the scoring list in NBA between 1978 and 1980.

2. Tim Hardaway’s Killer Crossover:

A six feet tall retired American basketball player is best known for his spectacular crossover dribble. He brought out one of the most effective methods of escaping a defender who is guarding really closely. TV analysts then called the move a “UTEP two step”. Tim would go between the legs and then fakes in one direction but quickly change directions with a cross-over.

That’s a really popular move in basketball because the defender can lose balance by trying to react too quickly. This killer crossover also got a second name Ankle Snatcher. Tim says he had the original killer crossover, not the Allen Iverson’s one. He also claims people are trying to copy his move and he brought a unique style to this game of basketball

3. Steph Curry pull up 3s:

Many former and current players have already declared Steph Curry as the biggest shooter in NBA history. To his credit, he is the one who motivated teams to employ the three point shot more often as part of their winning strategy. This pull up three is proved to be more effective than shooting inside the arc.

Also, what made this move a player’s favorite is the ability to generate the shot against locked in playoff defenses. Everything is a setup, and this one is virtually impossible to guard even if you have a good solid defense.

4. Tim Duncan’s Bank Shot:

Tim Duncan, an American former professional basketball player, is widely regarded as the greatest power forward of all time and one of the greatest ever to play in the NBA. He played for the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA for his whole 19-year career.

Duncan has made the bank shot of his own by using the backboard to his great advantage. A smooth sound to hear when the ball hits the glass of the backboard and he made the shot look so easy and pleasing to the eyes. Soon it became his signature shot.

5. Michael Jordan’s Fadeaway:

MJ the man who was instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the globe in the 1980s and 1990s made fadeaway move famous. This is a jump shot taken while jumping backward. The fadeaway wasn’t really a move; he built this around his patience and confidence. His footwork was precise and could turn over either shoulder.

If he felt pressure from defenders in any particular position, he would simply turn away from it and make his own room to start the shooting. It was said by the critics that Jordan redefined athleticism with his unstoppable gravity defying jump shots.

6. Dirk Nowitzki’s One Legged Fadeaway

Dirk Nowitzki is an MVP, leader, a franchise cornerstone, sixth highest scoring NBA player by total career regular season points. Whenever you think of Dirk, the one image that stands out among everything is the one legged fadeaway shot he delivered. He utilized his height advantage to it’s great effect by giving himself a chance to open up. An iconic basketball move- critics say which is completely unguardable and outstanding.

7. Hakeem’s Dream Shake:

Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon a basketball hall of fame, is considered one of the greatest centers ever to play the game. He was used to dunking so effortlessly that people would call it a dream. So he got the nickname “Dream”. A seven-foot (2.13 m) taller brought out his signature shot that includes a couple of steps intended to fox your opponent.

His skill and footwork were just incomparable. The opponent would call it “unguardable”. As a tall guy, those were the rare skills. Even after his retirement, Hakeem taught and trained his shake move to few NBA superstars like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Yao Ming.

8. Shaq’s Black Tornado:

Shaquille O’Neal, the NBA legend, pioneered a deadly basketball move known as Black Tornado. He would do an inverted jab step with his outside leg, then put his weight into the defender, and finally through tremendous agility to spin toward the hoop, he humiliated the defenders in an emphatic fashion. His backing down a defender in the post, spinning and powering through for a rim twisting dunk, is a sight to remember for ages.

He was a nightmare even for a defender as big as him. Though he eventually slowed down with ages and injuries, he carried the signature shot with him even in the twilight of his career. At times, he made some of the best defenders of the NBA look silly and unsure about what to do to prevent him from scoring.

9. Michael Jordan’s Reverse Lay Up:

You won’t find a player in the history of the NBA having so many signature moves like this legendary Michael Jordan had. Spectators were left stunned because MJ had defied gravity with an array of aerial shots.

Agility, quickness, balance in the air, an overall perfect technique made him stand out among the rest. His reverse lay upshot was certainly from another world. My favorite moment is when he did the reverse lay up over another great one Shaquille O’Neal. A thing of beauty.

10. Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s Skyhook:

Kareem Abdul Jabbar a record six time NBA most valuable player(MVP), 19 time NBA star and a member of six NBA championships, used his trademark “Skyhook” shot to establish himself as one of the finest goals scorers in NBA history. He had a goal percentage of 0.56.

In Inglewood, California 1983 against the opponent Artis Gilmore of San Antonio Spurs, Jabbar went up for a Skyhook. Of course, he was a 7 foot taller and it worked out as an advantage for him because it was almost impossible to block the Skyhook thanks to the limited height of the defenders.

He would have to bend his entire body to rise and tossed the ball with his long arms into the basket. Kareem’s skyhook was so devastating that opposing coaches, players, fans were left with no clue whatsoever. Though Wilt Chamberlain once was able to block the skyhook of Kareem. It was so effective and deadly that the skyhook shot was blocked only 1.5 times during Kareem’s whole career.

11. Rondo’s Fake Pass:

Rajon Pierre Rondo is an American professional Basketball player who is famously known as star sheet stutter. He made fake pass his go to weapon ever since he entered the league. How often he does this to throw off defenders? The fake behind the back pass he uses leaves defenders confused and absolutely with no clue. The defenders are unsure of who they are guarding and who has the ball. That’s a great tactic to create space around you.

The passing was Rondo’s greatest strength. So, he made this fake pass a more useful move. So often he drew defenders with him towards the baseline and even sneak a behind the back pass to his teammate. He can do this with both hands. Furthermore, he can set up different kinds of fake to exploit easy baskets.

12. Ginobili’s Eurostep:

Emanuel David Ginobili is one of the only two players to have won a Euro league title, an NBA championship, and an Olympic gold medal. By this electric style of play, he made a move called “Eurostep” famous. He pretended to step across the body, but so deftly he would switch directions and then make a lay up or pass the ball to a teammate to avoid defenders. This is also regarded as one of the toughest moves to guard against.

In November 2016 when NBA tv started taking the most popular signature move, Ginobili’s Eurostep was declared the winner (74 percent vote won). Players like Dwyane Wade, James harden, Giannis, Kevin Durant had adopted the move, but they all credited Ginobili for bringing the idea of taking two steps in different directions.

13. Magic’s No Look Pass:

Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr the retired American professional basketball player, was a two-time inductee into the basketball hall of fame. In 2007 he was selected as the greatest NBA point guard of all time. Magic remains the greatest passer of a basketball game. His numbers will give you a measure of his versatility as a passer.

Obviously, his 6’9’’ height worked as an advantage to see over defenders and create passing lanes. He fooled so many great defenders with his basketball IQ. He would pass the ball to his fellow teammates in a position of the court, where missing the opportunity to score was impossible.

His ability as a passer in the basketball game is still unmatched. We can’t remember a name other than him who had even decided a game’s result with the match's first touch.

14. LeBron’s Chase Down Block:

LeBron James is often considered the best player in the basketball world. Some say he is the greatest player ever to play the game of basketball. When a player is on a fast break against LeBron’s team, he is not someone who will simply act as an audience.

In order that he won’t let that happen so easily. If you think that how much faster this 6’8’’ guy will run down the court, then LeBron will prove you wrong. He is a freak athlete and blocks the shot even before his opponent realizing it. He made a habit of those chasing down blocks indeed.

The number of top class players like Curry, Iverson, harden, Kobe was the victims of those vicious, fiery chase down blocks. Probably the most iconic moment of chase down was against Andre Iguodala. What they needed to do was just dunk on it rather than playing casually to avoid the block.

15. Iverson’s Crossover:

Allen Iverson, an American former professional basketball player, was an eleven time NBA all star. He once was elected as NBA’s most valuable player in 2001. He got the nickname “The Answer”. His speediness and agility in dribbling would allow him to create his own room and start shooting. In 1997, Michael Jordan became a victim of Iverson’s one of the most famous crossover.

16. Harden’s step back:

James Harden is an American professional basketball player. He brought a revolutionary change by inventing the step back move. Because before the invention of this move, the basketball game was meant to be played through moving towards the basket.

Harden lowers his body with one leg forward and one behind, dribbles the ball quickly, lunges and either progresses to the hoop or steps back, creates his own space, and finally delivers the knockout punch. So, stylish, fluid and fierce. There is a feeling of a player dancing so effortlessly with himself. Harden’s balance gathering before rising to shoot is somewhat incomparable.

17. Melo’s Jab Step:

Carmelo Anthony, an American professional basketball player, made the jab step move famous. When you fake to drive to one direction towards the basket but instead go to the opposite direction or shoot the ball, this move is called a jab step. This jab step move will always be my favorite basketball move after picking the ball.

18. Wade’s Pump Fake:

Dwyane Wade former American professional basketball player spent his majority of 16 year career with Miami Heat in NBA. He along with LeBron James and Chris Bosh helped Miami to reach into four consecutive NBA finals. Wade picks up dribble around that 3 point line mark and at a slow motion rises as if he is gonna take a long jump.

But what wade does is he hits the pause on his shooting motions. Then the defender bites on his pump fake and drives into wade space, encouraging wade to start his shooting motion right into the clueless airborne defender.

People joke about this pump fake jumper saying,” why NBA can’t make a rule- defender who will jump at 3 point line against Wade will be fined”. This is of no surprise that Wade is Miami’s all time leader in games; points, assists, steals, shots made, and shots were taken.

19. The Elbow Pass:

Jason Williams, the retired American professional basketball player of NBA players at the point guard position for twelve seasons during the late 1990s and 2000s. He popularized the behind the back elbow pass as one of the flashiest passes in basketball. What he does with the move is bouncing the ball off his elbow to one of his teammates.

There are also two other variations, such as inside elbow pass and bent elbow pass. All these passing methods are so unconventional that he used to make fun of a defense, which ultimately opened up opportunities to score. Jason Williams was given the nickname “White Chocolate” thanks to his flashy style of play.

20. Crawford’s Shake and Bake:

Jamal Crawford, the former American professional basketball player won the NBA Sixth Man Of the Year Award in 2010, 2014, and 2016. He is the first player in NBA to get this award three times. This guy is the oldest player to score at least 50 points in an NBA game.

Jamal’s shake and bake is considered to be one of the best crossovers ever in the game. Many will say Jamal had the best handle in the league, and he really made the defense look silly at times.

21. Jordan’s One Handed Fake:

Michael Jordan never stopped learning. He always wanted to be unique, somewhat different than others. He brought out one handed fake move in the NBA. And this was arguably MJ’s most underrated move. None could palm a basketball to a greater effect than MJ. Even Kobe once said of this one handed fake move that he can’t palm the ball like MJ.

22. Parker’s Floater:

Tony Parker, a French professional basketball player, played for Charlotte Hornets of the NBA. This 6’2’’ guy stands with some of the best point guards in the history of the NBA. His signature move was a beautiful tear drop which later got the name “Floater”. He won four NBA championships with the Spurs and a regular starter as a point guard for them.

23. Tracy McGrady Off The Backboard Dunk:

Tracy McGrady, whose nickname is T-Mac, is a former American professional basketball player. He played both as a shooting guard and small forward during his tenure in NBA. During his first year in Orlando, he caught everyone by surprise with his off the backboard dunk.

He would throw the ball to a backboard, then ran fiercely towards it and eventually played the dunk. Though it was performed in a pre-season game for Orlando, he went on to make it a popular move worldwide in the 2002 NBA All-Star game. He did it regularly thereafter.

24. Bob Cousy’s Flashy Pass:

Bob Cousy, the retired American professional basketball player, had really transformed the game with his scintillating style of play. He was the first showman in 1950’s and ‘60s NBA era.

He made a name for himself with some unconventional, unique ball handling and passing skills that gave him the nickname “The Houdini Of The Hardwood”. Mr Basketball’s assist streak was so unmatched either in a number of crowns or consecutive years; he won six championships in seven years.

25. Kevin McHale Range Of Offensive Post:

Kevin McHale The retired American Basketball Player, spent his entire career for the Boston Celtics. Many regard him as one of the best power forwards of all time. He had varieties of moves under his belt that made the defenders look a fool at times. Pump fakes, hook shots, fadeaways all were in his textbook, and these moves helped him greatly to become one of the most dominant offensive big men to ever step into the NBA court

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