Basketball is a team game, and winning or losing a game mostly depends on team effort. But throughout the history of the basketball games, we have seen many individual achievements that help win a match. We saw many exceptional individual performances with the signature moves from players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan over the years in a critical moment of the game. A signature move shows us a unique style of a player through the creative movement and becomes an integral part of a basketball game. Let’s check out the top 30 signature moves in NBA history.
Last update on 2020-02-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. George Gervin's Finger Roll
George Gervin is a former American basketball player who played for both the National Basketball Association (NBA) and American Basketball Association. As an NBA player, he used to play for Virginia Squires, Chicago Bulls, and San Antonio Spurs. In the basketball court, Gervin's nickname was “Iceman” because of his calm attitude. However, Gervin is mostly known for his trademark finger roll move.
Finger roll isn’t an easy shot to play during the game; it takes time to master it, but once played, then it is difficult to stop the shot. The trick to finger roll is to flick the basketball over the defender and spin it towards the backboard. Other players also used to apply this technique in the game, but Gervin used to do it consistently.
2. LeBron James' Chase down Blocks
LeBron Raymone James, an American b-ball player, plays NBA for Los Angeles Lakers. He is one of the great basketball players in the history of basketball. James has been dominating the court and blocking shots since his first appearance with Cleveland Cavaliers. Since then, Cavs has been keeping track of how many times he used to block during the season.
You can hardly imagine how fast a 6'8 player can run down the basketball court, but James is a great player and do his jobs before the opponent team even could realize it. Many top-rated players have been the victim of LeBron James' Chase down Blocks like - Derrick Rose, Kobe, Harden, Curry, Andre Iguodala, etc.
3. Euro-Step of Manu Ginóbili
These days we can see many euro steps from many players like - Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Dwyane Wade, but Manu Ginobili is more prevalent among them. He is a professional basketball player from Argentina. As one of the two players, he won the Olympic gold medal, EuroLeague title, and an NBA championship.
The Euro step means when a player takes one step in one direction and promptly takes the second direction in another way. It makes the defenders confused; they think they are in the right position to tackle, but after a while, choose the other direction for a score.
Manu has been an unorthodox player throughout his career with San Antonio Spurs. When San Antonio Spurs used to play their traditional style game, Manu emerged as an improvised player who loves to fly on the court to make a shot on target. He is the master of the euro step and executes it perfectly with his speedy move.
4. Allen Iverson's Crossover
Allen Ezail Iverson was a professional basketball player from America. He played at point guard and shooting guard positions in the NBA in 14 seasons. As a 6 feet tall guy, he scored 26.7 PPG, ranks 6th all-time, and that is crazy. He had fantastic ball handling ability along with his fast and speedy movement. But fans all around the world remember him for his surprising crossovers.
Allen Iverson often used a double cross over; it starts just like a typical cross over. He switched back to his left side at the end of the move after faking left and moving right. And it kept the opponent defender flat-footed. Tim Hardaway is also a famous player in NBA for a crossover, but Iverson is renowned for his double crossover.
5. Bank Shot of Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan, an American professional basketball coach, played his entire 19 years of career with San Antonio Spurs, and then he became a coach of this team back in 2019. Tim Duncan’s signature bank shot perhaps depicts his professional career in a nutshell. He possessed all the skills to play all around the basketball court. He could target the shot and score with frequent movement.
There is nothing to say much about his move because it was so basic. His movement was simple but still so active that most of the players these days don’t use this.
6. Tornado of Shaquille O'Neal
Shaquille O'Neal is one of the great players in NBA history. At present, he is serving as a sports analyst for a TV program of NBA ON TNT. In NBA history, Shaq is the most dominant physical specimen since Wilt Chamberlain. He is a big guy that it was difficult to stop him in the court, aside from fouling.
He was a strong and powerful player. When he used to play in NBA no matter who was guarding him, Ben Wallace, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, or Dikembe Mutombo, no one could stop him. It was challenging to defend when Shaquille spin the basketball other way and target the hook shot.
7. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Skyhook
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook made a devastating impact on the history of the NBA. Because of this skyhook, he could able to reach on top of the scoring chart in NBA history.
Other professional basketball players also used to use the hook shot, but Kareem’s skyhook was so unique and perfect because of his height and technique he used to apply. With a 7'2 height and 7'5 wingspan, Kareem could able to make a shot entirely distance from a defender and unalike other big players, and he was more than proficient in hitting a ball from mid-range.
It requires precise timing to block the skyhook. If any defender moves a little bit early then, you could fake it and score with ease. And if the defender is a bit late, then the ball might go past them before they could react. Kareem claims that no one could ever block skyhook. But there were several occasions when it has stuck, by Wilt Chamberlain and some other players.
8. Dream Shake of Hakeem Olajuwon
Dream shake is a real treat to watch in basketball games. It is spin moves and fakes that Hakeem Olajuwon executed perfectly during his career. Opponent defenders got deceived many times when he did that. He had outstanding footwork, and he used this footwork over other big names to fool them in the post.
Hakeem was at his best in NBA finals and the conference back in 1995. He had a memorable performance during that time combined against David Robinson (awarded MVP before the series). Hakeem dominated over David Robinson by dream shake. He scored, on average, 35.3 PPG in that series. When the Life magazine asked Robinson how to deal with Kareem, then he responded – “Hakeem? You don’t solve Hakeem.”
9. Fadeaway of Michael Jordan
Jordan was a freak basketball player during the early life of his career. But as time passed he gradually developed fadeaway and still he is very famous for this. Most of the second half of Jordan’s career, fadeaway was his trump card, and no matter how many players guarded him, he could hit it anyway.
10. One-Legged Fadeaway of Dirk Nowitzki
It’s difficult to guard a seven-footer German guy who can shoot from anywhere in the court. And it becomes much more difficult when that guy could able to hit the fadeaway from anyplace. In the modern NBA, one-legged fadeaway of Dirk Nowitzki is one of the most exemplary shots.
Dirk Nowitzki has never been an athletic guy, and therefore, he developed that shot because he wanted to find a way to get separated from the opponent defenders. Being a 7 feet tall guy and with leaning back, he has always had the advantage to separate from other players and make a shot with ease.
He used to apply this one-legged fadeaway consistently, and many players from opponent teams noticed and observed it in the 2011 playoff run. But the thing is it was not a big deal that who were or how many were trying to protect him, Drik kept continue hitting it and lead the team to the final.
11. Pull up 3s of Stephen Curry
These days you can hardly find a basketball fan who doesn’t know Stephen Curry. However, many great players have already claimed that Stephen Curry is the biggest shooter in the history of the NBA. He motivated the basketball teams to use the three-point shots more frequently as a part of a game strategy to get more success. This strategy is more effective than to take a chance from inside the arch.
The skill to make the shot against the lock-in playoff defense made this strategy a player’s favorite. When all setup, and even with solid defense, it is impossible to guard and block the shot when a player uses Stephen Curry’s three-point shots.
12. The reverse layup of Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan was a fabulous and legendary player who had the skills to perform a smart signature move. You won’t find a basketball player with such caliber. The audience became amazed to see Michael Jordan playing on the court with a variety of areal shots. Speediness, velocity, liveliness, overall skills, and balance in the air made him an extraordinary player among all others. The reverse layup shot that he used to play during the game was incredible and treated to watch. The moment when he played the reverse layup shot over another legend Shaquille O’Neal was something you would love to watch over and over again.
13. Fake pass of Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo is an American professional basketball player who is mostly known as star sheet stutter. The fake pass has been his trademark since he started to play in the league. His false pass on the court has made the defenders of the opponent team confused, and they get no cue when Rondo applies this trick. The defenders become hesitant that who has the ball and who they are guarding. This approach is excellent when you want to create space around you on the court.
Rajon Rando’s supreme asset is the fake pass, and he uses this more often to deceive the defenders of the opponent team. Most of the time, he pulls defenders with him to the baseline and tattletales a behind and gives back pass to his teammates. The great thing is that he can do this by using both hands. Besides that, he can use several types of fake passes to make an easy shot off the backboard.
14. No Look Pass of Earvin "Magic" Johnson
Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. is a retired basketball player from America. He played 13 seasons for Los Angeles Lakers as a point guard. Back in 2007, he selected as the most excellent Point guard in the history of the NBA. His statistics will surely give you an idea about his usefulness as a passer. He is 6’9,’’ and this is an advantage to see other defenders from the opponent teams and create a passing lane. With his basketball skills, he fooled many other great defenders from the other side. He could able to pass the ball to his teammates in a perfect position where it was easy to make a score and hardly any chances missed. He was a game-changer. In his place, it is hard to imagine a replacement for him.
15. James Edward Harden’s step back
James Harden is a professional basketball player from America; he plays for Houston Rockets of the NBA. He has brought a groundbreaking change in the basketball game by inventing a step-back move. Before the invention of this approach, basketball played only over moving to the direction of the basket. With one leg forward, Harden lowers his body and keeps one leg behind at the same time and then quickly trickles the ball. After that, he moves towards the basketball hoop or steps back. Then he tries to create a gap and make a shot to the basket. Gathering balance before making a shot is something exceptional from Harden.
16. Carmelo Anthony’s jab step
Carmelo Kyam Anthony plays NBA for Portland Trail Blazers. Ten times he named an NBA all-star and six times an all NBA team member. He is famous for his jab step move. Jab step is a hard half step. When you fake to move in one direction to the basket and but instead you move to the opposite or different direction and shoot the ball, then it is called jab step. Anthony has been great at it; he has been doing this frequently.
17. Dwyane Wades pump fake
Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr. is a former professional basketball player from America. He spent 16 years of his NBA career playing for Miami Heat.
Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James helped Miami Heat to reach the finals for four consecutive times. Dwyane Wades picks up trickle on the 3 point line mark with a slow-motion rise movement to take a long jump. But what he usually does is he hits the pause on his gentle motions. After that, the defender of the opponent team nibbles on a pump fake and move into Wade’s position. Then, the defenders encourage Wade to make a shot towards the oblivious defender. People used to make a joke about Wade that “why NBA is not making a rule that jumping at 3 points line alongside with wade will lead to a penalty.” No wonder that Wade is Miami Heats' all-time commander.
18. Fadeaway of Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain could able to score against anybody. He was a big man yet skillful enough to hit the shot flawlessly. He was so tall that his shots were mostly unguardable. Many of his old opponents considered his unbelievable fadeaway jump as his best move. He even could execute the fadeaway from the midrange.
19. Elbow Pass of Jason Williams
Former American Jason Williams played twelve seasons from 1990 to 2000 for NBA. He is famous for his back elbow pass; it is one of the impressive passes in Basketball. He bounces the ball off to his teammates. There are two other alternatives of elbow pass, bent elbow pass and inside elbow pass.
All these passing strategies are unorthodox that he makes fun of the defense, and that helps the opportunities to create scores. Jason’s nickname is “white chocolate” because of his flashy style of play.
20. Jamal Crawford’s Shake and Bake
Aaron Jamal Crawford is a professional basketball player from America. Last time he played for Phoenix Suns of the NBA. BACK IN 2010, 2014, and 2016, won the sixth man of the year award. In NBA history, he was the first player to have this achievement. He is the oldest player who scored 50 points in an NBA. His shake and bake are one of the best crossovers in the history of a basketball game. Many people say that Jamal Crawford was the best in handling the ball and make the defense hoodwink.
21. On handed fake of Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan has always been fantastic at the basketball court. He still had the thirst to score in the game. He initiated the one-handed fake move in the NBA. It is an underrated signature move, and no one could do as Michael did in his career. He was someone exceptional.
21. Parker’s Floater
6’2’’ tall Tony Parker is a former French-American basketball player who used to play for Charlotte Hornets of the NBA. With San Antonio Spurs, he won four NBA championships. He was also a regular starter for Spurs as a point guard. However, his signature shot was floater, which was his best weapon during the game.
22. Off The Backboard Dunk of Tracy McGrady
Tracy Lamar McGrady is best known for his career in the NBA. He is a former professional basketball player from the US. During his career, he played both as a small forward and shooting guard.
Everyone got stunned for his off the backboard dunk during his initial year in Orlando. He could able to throw the basketball to the backboard, then ran ferociously towards it and played the dunk finally. Although it was the pre-seasoned game for Orlando, he made signature move widespread worldwide in the 2002 NBA game. After that, he continued to do it regularly.
23. Bob Cousy’s Flashy Pass
Bob Cousy is a classical basketball player from America. He used to play as a point guard with Boston Celtics (1950-1963) and with Cincinnati Royals for a short time (1969-1970). Bob transmuted the basketball game with his magical style of play. He has given the nickname “The Houdini of the Hardwood” by sportswriter because of his passing skills, ball handling, and unconventional style. His flashy pass was exceptional in that era, and people loved to watch this over and over again. He was such an outstanding player who won six NBA championships in seven years.
24. Kevin McHale Range Of Offensive Post
Kevin Edward McHale considered one of the best power forwards of all time. He is a former American basketball player who spent his entire professional career with Boston Celtics. Kevin could able to perform arrays of signature moves that made the defenders fool in the court. He could play lots of signatures moves in the court, like - fadeaways, pump fakes, hook shots, and much more. These made him one of the most dominant offensive players in NBA history. His name listed to the all-time team of NBA’s 50th anniversary.
25. Kobe Bryant’s spin jumper
Kobe Bryant is a former American professional basketball player. It was regrettable that he died due to a helicopter crash on 26th January 2020. However, Kobe played his entire 20 seasons as a shooting guard with Los Angeles Lakers in NBA. When any defender comes to face Kobe in the field, there is nothing much he could do except for waiting if Kobe misses the shot. In the NBA, Kobe had the best footwork among other players. He used to treat basketball as a science, and he also knew that when and how a defender would make a jump or lean back. He had many weapons to deceive the opponents, and the spin jumper was one of them.
26. Tomahawk dunk of Dominique Wilkins
Jacques Dominique Wilkins is a retired professional basketball player from America. He was an NBA all-star nine times. Many people agreed that Dominique is one of the best dunkers in NBA history.
He got the nickname “The Human Highlight Reel” because of his fantastic display in the basketball court. He was an incredible talent who used to demonstrate a dunking exhibition in the court.
27. Wilt Chamberlains Dipper dunk
As Wilt Chamberlains had a superior size of body structure and strength, he had the advantage over other players in the basketball court. Thus he could showcase his all-round performance. Wilt Chamberlain's main three shots were finger roll stepping into the middle, dipper dunk, and the fall-away shot. His fitness level was so good, and that can’t be comparable — his most fabulous shot was a deeper dunk, which he used to do it in almost every game.
28. Michael Jordan’s Cradle Dunk
Michael Jordan’s Cradle Dunks was something exceptional because it didn’t require much power to execute, unlike other dunks. It is all about skills and fitness. When he slithered in the air, he could promptly rock the basketball from one side to another side of his body and then proceed to through the ball towards the hoop. His cradle dunk stands out above the rest, and it is difficult to compare with others. They all are equally great, and it is hard to choose a specific one out of these.
Cradle dunks were one of the remarkable parts of MJ’s career as a basketball player. The basketball fans will cherish these awesome memories forever.
29. Jason Kidd's Bounce Passes
Jason Frederick Kidd took the NBA to another level by his ability to make fast break passes. He had so much control over the game. He was notorious for getting the perfect angle in the court and quickly delivered the ball to his teammates. He was a master of this. Currently, Jason serves as a professional basketball coach for the Los Angeles Lakers of NBA.