The Real Top 10 Alley-Oops In NBA History

09.08.11 5 years ago • 23 Comments
J.R. Smith (photo. Mark Mann)

J.R. Smith (photo. Mark Mann)

The best ever? That’s hard to do. Even with a limitless library like YouTube, it’s virtually impossible to make a list of the best alley-oops of all-time and not miss a couple. All of the NBA’s greatest players have their most popular highlights, but what about the average or no-name players? Some of them have great alley-oops too, but you’ll be lucky to find them anywhere, much less remember them.

When a video was posted last week, it became painfully obvious pretty quickly that it was missing a few. So I figured I’d make the REAL top 10 list. No gimmicks. No timetables. Just straight raw ferociousness. Little did I know how hard it was actually going to be. You can’t miss anything, and when you’re talking all-time, things get a little blurry because there are so many candidates and too much time.

A few rules I figured I’d run with:

1) the lobs need to be dunked (that counts out D-Wade-to-LeBron from last season)
2) they have to be in an NBA game (regular season or playoffs)
3) they have to involve two teammates (sorry T-Mac, no self lobs)
4) and they have to actually complete the dunk (or else this would’ve been the greatest one ever)

What did I learn from making this list? That Jason Kidd throws the best lobs. Not even close. And I NEVER would’ve thought that Kidd could touch the Glove. Gary Payton‘s lobs were an art form. He’d lob them and they would seem to sit in the air for seconds at a time so you could marvel. But Kidd has so many classic alleys, I could’ve made a top 30 Jason Kidd mix.

Besides all that, here are my 10 best alley-oops ever:


The best of the rest:
Dwight Howard over Jrue Holiday
LeBron on the break
Kidd to Vince for a double-pump reverse (you’ll be hearing those names a lot)
Payton to Kemp (at 2:39 in the video)
AI to AI
Grant Hill left-hander
-and lastly a dunk that I REALLY felt NEEDED to be on this list, but there just wasn’t room: Kobe to Shaq


10. Stephon Marbury over the head
Out of all 10 of these clips, this one from Stephon Marbury looks the most like a video game. Because Starbury pulls the reverse off so easily, it took me some time to truly appreciate this. Now I can see it: one of the most video-game-dunks ever. That’s a good thing. Extra points for an at-the-time unknown Stephen Jackson making a terrible pass (or should I take away points for that?).
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9. Jason Kidd to Kenyon Martin – off the glass (#1 on the video)
This play was just… actually forget that, watch the whole video (#2-3 stick out as well).

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8. Kobe Bryant off a tipped pass
Even if you never knew that the pass was tipped, this would still be dope. But since the Sixers got a hand on it, and Kobe had to jump to the other side of the rim to get it, we have to show it even more love. The pass gets a D; C’mon Brian Shaw… you’re a point guard. You have to be able to get this off. But the finish is absolutely an A.


7. Isiah Thomas bounce pass lob
I really believe that if they were able to finish this lob cleanly, this would’ve been the greatest alley-oop ever. Number one. Isiah actually did pull this off cleanly with Dominique Wilkins during an All-Star Game. But let’s face it, doing it in an actual game makes it that much better. To pull this out in a game that matters takes some serious confidence. How incredible is that pass?


6. Odom & D-Miles
Was this play awesome for it’s spontaneous creativity? Or did the announcing team make it better than it really was?


5. Jason Kidd to Vince
Vince Carter is to dunking as Jason Kidd is to…alley-ooping? Just a thought…

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4. Shawn Kemp over ‘Zo
As virtually any basketball fan knows, any discussion of dunking needs to include the GP-Reign Man combo. They might have connected for more alley-oops than any duo ever. If only we had stats for this sort of thing. Kemp has some classics, but none more so than this monster (the final dunk in the video). Right over Alonzo Mourning, the pass is perfect, the finish is perfect and the reaction is better than any of it. Kevin Calabro sings one of his greatest lines ever on top of it.


3. Vince Carter spike dunk
Watch that video. Now watch where he caught it. Now watch how hard he dunked it. Now shake your head incessantly. There are no words to describe this. Only actions.


2. Michael Jordan over Patrick Ewing (#5 on the video)
Mark Jackson told the best story you could tell after this one. Don’t bring your family to town when Chicago is playing, he said once. You don’t want to get embarrassed. Lesson learned, Mark.


1. J.R. Smith 360
It’s hard for me to really pin this play as the single greatest alley-oop ever for a couple of reasons. Normally, “greatest ever” means something meaningful or legendary – a highlight that will still get play even 30-40 years from now. This alley-oop was in the dead of winter against perhaps the worst team in the league. No one truly cared about it then (besides the diehards) and 15 years from now, will people even remember it?

But Smith did 360 it, and he did do it in an actual NBA game and he did make it look like this was a TFB tour stop. VC’s had a few 180 lobs, but I’ve never seen someone actually 360 a pass in a game before.

What do you think? Any I missed?

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