The term “alley oop” originated in American football with the San Francisco 49ers to describe a high-arcing pass to the wide receiver. In basketball, the alley-oop can be dated as far back as the 1950s with Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell in their college days; however, these alley-oops mostly came off of what is now known as offensive interference plays. Some credit the alley-oop to Al Tucker at Oklahoma Baptist University in the 1960s, while others credit David Thompson for popularizing the exciting alley-oop at North Carolina State University in the 1070s, even though dunking was illegal in the NCAA during this time.
When dunking in the NCAA became legal again in 1976, alley-oops became a household basketball term and skyrocketed in popularity with Magic Johnson during his tenure at Michigan State.
The alley-oop became more of a staple in basketball in the 1990s due to the evolving nature of the game. The more athletic the players became, the more alley-oops occurred.
An alley-oop needs timing, teamwork, vision and passing/finishing skills. Every year in the NBA, the fans are rewarded with one night that meshes the best the game has to offer. Since an alley-oop remains arguably the most exhilarating and amazing play to watch, let’s take a look at the 10 best alley-oops that occurred during an All-Star Game.
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10. Rondo‘s midcourt lob to LeBron
Anyone that has seen LeBron James play at least one game can tell you that the four-time MVP is one of the best finishers at the rim, especially in the open court. On the same note, anyone who has seen Rajon Rondo play at least one time can tell you about his phenomenal playmaking and passing skills. So, imagine the beauty that occurs when these two connect for an alley-oop. That’s just what happened in the 2012 All-Star Game at Amway Center in Orlando when Rondo threw an oop from midcourt for ‘Bron to attack the rim with a powerful reverse.
9. Iverson‘s backboard pass to McGrady
The eighth-best alley-oop in an All-Star Game came from two players who had phenomenal skills and talent, but are often overlooked due to injuries and attitude. Allen Iverson was a wizard with a basketball, and during the 2004 All-Star Game in downtown Los Angeles, he showed off one of his weapons with a ridiculous lob off the backboard to Tracy McGrady for a huge reverse dunk. I’m sure we’ll see both A.I. and T-Mac on this list again.
8. Zeke throws it off the backboard to Jordan
Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas had one the most famous on and off-court feuds of all time, and Chuck Daly‘s “Jordan Rules” used by the Bad Boys in Detroit will remain as one of the most notorious defensive schemes in the game’s history. However, Zeke and MJ played off each other a number of times while representing the East in All-Star Games in the ’80s. One of the great ASG alley-oops came from these two legends in the 1989 ASG at the Astrodome in Houston. After catching the outlet pass, Thomas throws a lob off the backboard to Jordan for a monster flush.
7. A.I. lobs it up for Vince Carter… three times
Allen Iverson and Vince Carter dazzled the Staples Center crowd in L.A. in the 2004 ASG with three insane alley-oop plays. First, A.I. lobbed the rock off the glass for Vinsanity to hammer down with a marvelous one-handed jam. Then, A.I. grabbed another assist from Carter with a pretty, one-handed shovel pass for the high-flier, who soared from the baseline to crush the rim with two hands. Then, in traffic, he hooked him up again for the nicest of the trio. Anytime you get a great passer–when he wanted to be–and one of the best dunkers of all time to connect on an alley-oop on a big stage, let alone three times, it instantly becomes a moment to remember.
6. Shaq throws down oop on the Dream
Shaquille O’Neal put together a remarkable collection of All-Star performances throughout his career, as his three All-Star Game MVPs are a testament to the fact. During the 1994 ASG at the Target Center in Minneapolis, a young Shaq posterized another legend, Hakeem Olajuwon. Scottie Pippen, who went on to be named the ASG MVP in ’94, located The Diesel making his way to the rim and threw up a lob in midrange. Despite the 7-foot Olajuwon trying to break up the alley-oop pass, Shaq managed to catch and hammer it down on The Dream with one hand, causing Hakeem to fall to the ground. Be sure to check out David Robinson‘s reaction to the Pippen/O’Neal oop…it’s priceless.
5. The Mamba sets up The Big Ticket… then switch
Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett continued their two-man game–they’re original example will be discussed later–in the 2001 All-Star Game at the MCI Center in Washington D.C. in brilliant fashion. The Mamba was coming off his first championship and The Big Ticket was skyrocketing as one of the league’s best big men in the 2001 ASG. First, Kobe threw a lob high off the backboard for KG to smash through the rim on the break. Then, Garnett returned the favor by tossing an alley-oop to Bryant, who stretched out for the huge one-handed slam. Shaq either looked jealous or unfazed by the spectacular that was unfolding between these two future Hall of Famers on the floor.
4. A.I. causes more Vinsanity
Allen Iverson connected with Vince Carter on numerous occasions during All-Star Games over the years. In fact, two of these connections have already appeared on this list. The No. 4 spot on this list may seem like a normal alley-oop play that you would see countless times during any ASG. However, the more you watch the video, you can see the true degree of difficulty of the oop. In the 2000 ASG in Oakland, A.I. spotted Carter cutting to the rim on the baseline and immediately threw up a pass. But The Answer’s lob was a bit off target as you can see Carter adjust his stride while in the air to avoid hitting his head on the backboard. Of course, Vinsanity finished with a mean reverse with complete ease.
3. Carter goes off the glass for self alley-oop
It seems to never get old to look back at the phenomenal dunks that Vince Carter has made over his career. He had power, grace, hops, and a vertical that seemed to go on forever in his prime that was simply unmatched. At the 2005 All-Star Game in Denver, Carter combined all of his dunking skills and borrowed a page from his cousin, Tracy McGrady, from an earlier ASG, which is also why this remarkable oop comes in at the three spot. Carter took the ball coast-to-coast, lobbed up a pass off the backboard from beyond the free throw line, and used his 43-inch vertical to catch his self-lob and rock the rim with authority.
2. Garnett lobs up insane oop for Kobe
Under the bright lights of basketball’s biggest stage at Madison Square Garden in New York City, a 19-year-old Kobe Bryant made his debut in the 1998 All-Star Game. The year before, Bean left his imprint on All-Star Weekend by winning the Slam Dunk Contest, but now eyes were focused on what he could do against the best of best, including a marquee matchup with Michael Jordan. However, it was the beginning of his on-court chemistry with Kevin Garnett and one jaw-dropping alley-oop that will be remembered forever. Kobe brought the ball up the court in transition, dished it off to KG, and continued to make his way to the bucket. Garnett immediately threw up a lob that was both crazy high and insanely far away from the basket. Kobe skied up, reached back with both hands, and somehow snatched the ball to flush down a dunk that is arguably the best two-man alley-oop play in ASG history.
1. T-Mac connects with T-Mac
Tracy McGrady evolved the term “alley-oop” in the game of basketball in the 2002 All-Star Game at the First Union Center in Philadelphia. T-Mac pulled off the dunk heard around the world…the basketball world, that is. What is not typically remembered about this dunk is that McGrady already pulled off the self alley-oop during a 2001 preseason game against the Celtics, but it was not seen by the masses (via MagicBasketball.net). Therefore, the stage of the ASG on national television presented McGrady with an opportunity to showcase this dunk to the masses. After Jermaine O’Neal grabbed the defensive board and dished it off to T-Mac, he dribbled the ball up the court, a wide-open lane opened up to the bucket, and the right time and the right place presented itself to McGrady. T-Mac exploded down the middle of the lane, threw it off the glass with his left hand, and finished furiously with his right hand. If you look closely at the video, you can see Paul Pierce‘s reaction to this self alley-oop while T-Mac is still in the air. T-Mac’s oop in the 2002 ASG was grand, theatrical, and had showmanship. That is why it is the best alley-oop in ASG history.
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