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The Top 10 NBA YouTube All-Stars

Basketball historians and old heads must have mixed feelings about YouTube. On one hand, the ultimate On Demand channel gives them access to every piece of NBA footage that’s locked away in some vault. But at the same time, it’s going to warp history. There’s no question in that. Players who weren’t all that get complimented as if they were All-Stars, and some of them last longer in our collective search engines than they should. Bill Walker is the ultimate NBA journeyman and his name will forever live on from inside the Internet TV. James White is another YouTube success story. There’s a ying and a yang to this, a white and black.

At the same time, sometimes YouTube can come to transcend even the players. John Wall‘s celebrity in high school was directly attached to having the greatest high school mixtape ever (nearly 5.7 million views), and now our cover boy Aquille Carr is using the fame he got from one highlight tape (over two million views) to drive himself up the 2013 rankings.

You almost have to really suck to be in the NBA and not have at least one YouTube clip/highlight devoted to you (Jacque Vaughn even has a mix). But a few players stand above the rest. Here are the top 10 NBA YouTube All-Stars.

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10. CARMELO ANTHONY
*about 13,000 results
Most Popular: Choking The Machine
While he certainly isn’t going to crack an ankle breakers mix too often or do anything besides his typical “put it down ever so quickly with two hands” dunk, ‘Melo has enough big game and clutch shot performances over the years to fill up any mixtape.

9. JAMAL CRAWFORD
*about 2,260 results
Most Popular: Crawford On Ben “Gorgon”
The man who needs to be most thankful for the creation of YouTube. Had Jamal Crawford come along even so much as 10 years earlier, how would we remember him? Probably as someone who shot 41 percent for his career, a decent offensive player on some of the league’s most disappointing Lottery teams. After about 10 years, he would’ve faded into history and 15 years from now, young kids would hear the name and say he must’ve sucked.

8. JOSH SMITH
*about 8,750 results
Most Popular: 2006-07 Top 10 Plays
While nearly all of his videos replay the same thing over and over – Smith catches the ball, cocks it all the way back, arm stretches all the way out before dunking really hard or Smith blocking a shot at the rim into the stands – that content should be allowed to play over and over because it’s so good.

7. BLAKE GRIFFIN
*8,620 results
Most Popular: Game Recognize Game
While he may only have one year of highlights, can you really keep Blake Griffin off this list? Not when his performance against the Knicks just a week before Thanksgiving had people popping out clips like babies. It isn’t the videos that get me hyped. It’s knowing all of this came in such a short time, that Griffin spent a part of every night crowning someone.

6. AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE
*about 7,030 results
Most Popular: The Power & The Fury
A young #32 was one of the three most unreal physical forces to come into the NBA within the last few decades. Giffin’s first year was jaw-dropping, but if YouTube had been around when Amar’e was a rookie, it might’ve crashed, never to be heard from again. He made people cry he dunked so hard.

5. BARON DAVIS
*about 7,060 results
Most Popular: That’s On Your Family
The game behind the idea for this list. Andrei Kirilenko. 2007 playoffs. Utah Jazz and the Golden State Warriors. I think I listened to Mike Tirico yell OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH MAAAAAAAANNNNNNN at least a dozen times this morning. Adonal Foyle agrees with this ranking.

4. DWYANE WADE
*about 19,400 results
Most Popular: D-Wade Laughs At ‘Melo
Name me another NBA player who has a better mix of dunks, handles and clutch performances on YouTube. There is no one else. Wade stands alone at the top. At the same time, ever since D-Wade’s absurd 2008-09 season, I’ve felt there hasn’t been a more criminally underrated player than Wade (historically speaking & on the YouTube hierarchy). He’s going to end up as one of the greatest players of all-time and yet, if you were to go into a barbershop and say that, people would chuckle.

3. LEBRON JAMES
*about 25,550 videos
Most Popular: The Fake Commercial
The King might’ve been number one on this list if we destroyed all video of His Decision-ness from the past year. Now when you search for LeBron James, there are just too many spoofs of that night, jokes that should’ve worn off around Christmas of last year. He barely beats out Wade for this spot just off the strength of his high school highlights.

2. VINCE CARTER
*about 11,800 results
Most Popular: Best Dunk Ever
The older he gets and the closer he inches to retirement, the more I realize no one is touching Vince Carter as a dunker. We’ve seen some great ones since VC first debuted – Jason Richardson, Desmond Mason, Kobe, Tracy McGrady, DeMar DeRozan – but Carter is quite likely a head above all of the competition. He probably owns eight of the top 10 dunk videos ever.

Young VC impressed not just with his jams though. He was an effortless offensive player. It came too easy for him. Check out actual game footage from his first few years: it’s a bunch of smooth fallaways off one foot, casual three-point chucks and spins into the lane that seem slow for Carter but put everyone else on the ground.

Still, one of the best ways to waste time is to go on YouTube and search for VC dunks. I think it might be impossible to see them all. God definitely waited to bring us Vince Carter until just the right moment. Technology had advanced enough that his first few years were able to eventually get to YouTube. Blurry, yes. But they’re there. And that’s all that matters.

1. KOBE BRYANT
*about 26,200 videos
Most Popular: Aston Martin
It helps to have 15-plus years of highlights to choose from, and it also helps to have a clearly defined career. Unlike a lot of other great players, you can almost always pin a Kobe video to a certain point in his career (unlike a LeBron or Wade whose years morph together. Can you tell a 2006 D-Wade highlight from a 2009? You can, but not as easily as Bryant’s). Here is how his career maps out on YouTube:

1996-99: young Kobe…back when he didn’t always start, but always excited…had some memorable matchups with the GOAT
1999-2004: championship Kobe…was the ultimate sidekick…his first taste of morphing into the Wolf and putting up Godly offensive numbers…our final taste of young #8
2005-2008: video game Kobe…the years when he broke box scores every night
2009-current: championship Kobe…King Kobe…old Kobe

Whereas LeBron has thousands of spoofs of the Decision on YouTube and all of Carter’s best come from like, a four-year span, Kobe’s most famous clip is probably his 81-point game. Which would you rather watch?

What do you think? Did I miss anyone?

Follow Sean on Twitter at @SEANesweeney.

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