Throughout the course of 75 years of NBA history, we’ve seen many signature moves by NBA superstar players leave behind their legacy moves in the league, and because of these original and highlight moves that caught their defenders off guard, no matter how much time it passed, we still revert back to their moves. Oftentimes, these moves cause great motivation for a new generation to re-introduce or improve the moves to our current era.
That signature moves made people excited, and fall in love with the players no matter what it passes. Like how Kobe Bryant applied Jordan’s fadeaway and Olajuwon’s dream shake into his move. His moves were so deadly that it was hard to predict and stop.
Today, we will demonstrate our greatest respect to the great players in NBA history by honoring those players with 21 Greatest NBA Signature Moves in NBA history.
22. Jason Kidd – Bounce Pass
Jason Kidd is one of the best passers in NBA history. His flashy bounce passes with precise control was very deadly when it comes down to fast-break passes. He can accurately pass the ball at the right spot for his teammates to get an easy look in the basket.
The control of his pass was so precise that he adds a great spin on the ball that will get to his teammate with three defenders. Some of his passes are either no-look passes, between the legs passes, between the leg passes of the opponent, alley-oops, or behind the back.
He makes difficult passes look so easy and natural. Kidds earned five times NBA assists leaders in 1999-2001, 2003, and 2004. He had a total of 12091 assists and 107 triple-double in his 19 years in the NBA.
New Jersey Nets’ era was special, and the team chemistry and athleticism makes basketball game fun to watch. He led the Nets along with Vince Carter, Kenyon Martin, and Richard Jefferson to back-to-back NBA finals appearances against Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O’Neal duo, La Lakers. Kidds’s fast and accurate passes in fast-break, and plus top finished like Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson, and Vince Carters makes the Nets a team to fear in the fast-break situation.
21. Tracy McGrady – Self Pass-off-the-backboard dunk
Tracy McGrady or T-Mac is one of the top shooting guards/small forwards in the league. He was the cousin of top dunker Vince Carter, and they once played together for Toronto Raptors. T-Mac has many highlights in his career such as monstrous dunk, game-winner three points shots, or scored 13 points in 33 seconds with a comeback victory against San Antonio Spurs.
But we think his signature moves that make T-Mac great was his self pass off the backboard dunk he first pulled off during a preseason game in Boston when he played for Orlando Magic in his first year. The moves caught everyone including his defenders off guard by throwing the ball off the backboard accurately and finished it with a dunk.
T-mac later took his signature moves to the national level by introducing them to everyone during the 2002 NBA All-Star Game night. Many people were shocked by this move because it was the first time they see it done in the NBA. T-mac continues to demonstrate this move during All-Star games and the regular season. We see many players throughout history after T-Mac use this move in the game.
Tracy Mcgrady made this move so easy but in reality, the timing to execute this move is very difficult. You need to catch your defender off guard by bouncing the ball back from the backboard, and finished with a dunk or layup. T-Mac’s signature moves can easily stop in an NBA games if the defender anticipates the move.
20. LeBron James -Chase-down block
LeBron James or LBJ is a beast when he first came into the NBA. One of his signature moves that brought Cleveland Cavaliers fans off the seat was his chase-down block in transition. The fans were so hyped by the move that they would count how many blocks he had during the season.
Noone would have thought a 6’8″ guy can be this quick running down the court. Whenever a player on a fast break against LBJ, they have to expect James will chase you down the court with a block if you’re careless. He is so quick and powerful that it was too late by the time their opponents realize LBJ was trailing behind them. His opponents can’t be lazy in a transition layup when James is on the opposing team.
The preys that fell under James’s chase-down block includes Steph Curry, Allen Iverson, James Harden, Kobe Bryant, Andre Iguodala, and Derrick Rose. He was named five times NBA All-Defensive First Team from 2009-2013. (famous player like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan was on this team numerous time).
Although the chase-down block is not unique to only James, we see a famous player like Michael Jordan blocked the shot on the backboard numerous time throughout his career ( MJ was named defensive player of the year in 1988), James made this chase-down block with unique to him with his freak athleticism and power. He’s like a cheetah that chases you down and will strike you when you’re careless. This move can easily be his NBA signature moves in defense.
19. Kevin Durant’s Hesi-Jimbo
In the below twitter message, Durant explained what is Hesi-Jumbo moves. You probably don’t’ fully understand Durant’s explanation on hesi pull-up Jimbo. As big as Durant is at six feet ten inches tall, he is not slow at all. With his long limbs, wide wingspan, and quickness, Durant can pull off many difficult shots and moves.
Fultz got some 💩 with him. The hesi pull-up jimbo was smooth. Probably don't understand what I just said if u don't REALLY hoop
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 4, 2017
Durant joined Brooklyn Nets in 2019-20 and skipped the entire season to recover from his torn right Achilles tendon. The returns on both Durant and Kyrie Erving duo will bring definitely bring the Nets to the Eastern final as long as they remain healthy.
So let’s talk about Durant’s hesi-jimbo. This move is one of the go-to moves he uses often to shake off his defender. The moves start with Durant drives with a stutter-step hesitation quickly followed by a jumper. The other variation of this move is stutter-step hesitation to fake shot cross over a shot or stutter-step hesitation with a step-back jumper. It has become almost unstoppable because Kevin Durant’s wingspan at 7’5″ along with his height gives him a lot of space between his defenders. His defenders have a hard time contending for the shot. Durant often uses the same move, instead of a pull-up jumper, he would hesitate and drive toward the basket for a layup or dunk.
Even though this is a simple move and not a unique move like other signature moves below, but the way Durant uses this move to his greatest advantage has made the hesitation move Durant’s signature move. He even named it hesi-jimbo. This move has earned him the top score, championships, and one day it will lead to the Hall of Fame.
18. Tony Parker – Floater
Tony Parker was one of the greatest point guards in the league, but he often gets underrated due to his height and playing in a team with so many superstars like Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Manu Ginobili, and Kawhi Leonard. Although he didn’t get the respect he deserves, he is still ranked as one of the top point guards to get points consistently in the pain with an average of 15.5 points and 5.6 assists per game in the regular season, and 17.7 points and 5.1 assists per playoff game.
With his underrated dribbling skill and quickness, Parker can easily drive by his defenders and score in the paint. But as he gets older with a decrease in his quickness and hops, Parker comes up with his signature floater shot. Guarding Parker was very tricky because he is very quick and can get within two feet under the basket, and if you close off the pain, he can effortlessly release his floater at anywhere in the paint, or at eight feet to twelve feet from the basket. His defender needs to stay alert all the time for the tear-drop release, and it almost impossible to predict. If you think he will go for the floater, then he can dribble all the way to the paint for an easy layup.
Parker helped San Antonio Spurs won four NBA Championships in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014. He was the Finals MVP in 2007. He definitely deserves more credits for his beautiful floater and effort in the team.
17. George Gervin -Finger roll
George Gervin also nicknames The Iceman for his cool and calm attitude on the court. Rumor has it that he was able to play high-level competition against tough opponents without breaking a sweat. He starts his career with San Antonio Spurs in 1974. Gervin was known for his ability to make rack up bucks for his team. His signature move was finger roll, a very fundamental move that kids learn when they start practicing layup. Garvin takes the simplest move every player learns at the beginning to a national level by scoring bucks after bucks in every game.
He earned NBA Scoring Champion for four seasons (1978-80, and 1982). Gervin averaged 25.1 points per game, and score a total of 26595 points in his 14 years of American Basketball Association (ABA) and National Basketball Association. Gervin had a career-high 63 points during the 1977-78 season.
Gervin’s finger roll is a basic shot that you roll the basketball with your fingertips to the basket. His control of the fingertips was so precise that he can perform his signature finger roll shot anywhere in the court. He can even shot from the free-throw line. His mastering of the “finger roll” along with his change of speed and long arm, almost made it impossible to stop. Gervin can make the shot from a various angle that appears impossible to, but his finger roll moves were so deadly and mind-blowing that inspired many later generation superstars players like Gary Payton. His finger roll move is so classic and fundamental that Gervin end up on our NBA signature moves list.
16. Jamal Crawford Shake-n-bake
Jamal Crawford‘s signature move “shake-n-bake” has been one of his best crossovers we have seen in the NBA. His quickness, sharpshooting, and crossovers have earned him many points in the game. He is so quick and crafty coming down the lane that his opponents can’t keep up. He is one of the best sixth men in La Clippers with solid 14.6 points per game. Crawford named NBA Sixth men of the year for three different seasons. Once with Atlanta Hawks and twice with Clippers.
Crawford’s ability to score with a contact in three points shot put him in the all-time leaders in four points plays. He becomes one of the only players to score 50+ points a game in four different teams. Crawford is one of the guys who can give you 50+ points coming off the bench. Throughout NBA history, Crawford is the second player to score over 10,000 points from the bench.
Crawford’s shake-n-bake move throw his defender by his crafty behind the back dribble, follows by a hop step layup or jump shot. He can also have a variation of the behind-the-back dribble, fakes-shot-drive toward the basket. He was best coming down on transition where the defender fails to react to his crossover. Crawford also has the nickname of “J-Crossover”
Crawford’s J-crossover will continue to remain in the top signature moves in NBA history for future players to study.
15. Rajon Rondo – behind-the-back ball fake
Rajon Rondo is by far one of the top point guards in the league. His crafty signature behind the back ball fake made his opponent confuse on behind the pass, but in fact, it is a fake pass that leads to a layup or shot.
Rondo has many highlights and awards in his career. He was two time NBA champion (2008, 2020), 2x NBA All-defence first team (2010, 2011), 3x NBA assists leader (2012, 2013, 20161), and NBA steal leader (2010).
In the video above, Rondo faked the Miami Heat teams beautifully with a behind the back fake pass that follows with a layup. Rondo’s behind the back fake passes has become one of the tricky moves that guards use from time to time.
14. Stephen Curry – Three-Pointer
Steph Curry‘s three-pointer has changed our NBA game. Three-point shots are not new in the NBA. It has always been one of the favorites for players to hit clutch three to lead the team. Ray Allen was famous for his accuracy and deadly shot behind the arch.
What Curry did to change our NBA is by making three more players focus on the three-pointer. Curry’s crafty dribble along with his quick release behind the arch makes him deadly behind the arch. His range is so ridiculous that he often shot near half-court. Curry and his best partner Klay Thompson “splash brothers” shoot three regularly. Splash brothers caught the NBA teams off guard with two best guards knocking down three in transition. They lead Golden State Warriors to three NBA championships in 2015, 2017, and 2018.
Curry’s dribble skill allows him to find space to release his quick three to lead the team. We see more guards, forwards and even centers shoot more three-pointer.
13. James Harden/Luka Doncic – Step Back Three
Step back shot is not new, in fact, Michael Jordan utilizes step back in his play. James Harden has taken the step back to another level with his long-range shot. When we talk about step-back three, James Harden would most likely pop up in your mind as “the guy” with being the best step-back shot.
A step-back shot is a way for players to create extra space between their defenders to pull up a shot. Harden used step-back in almost all of his shots behind the arch. Sometimes he even does a double step-back three that some argue the move is a travel violation. But the refer seen to let Harden get away with it. We see many clutches winning shot from Harden that bring victory to Huston Rockets.
Another player who has the best step-back three beside James Harden is Luka Doncic. Luka shot a clutch winning shot with 3.7 seconds left in game 4 against La Clipper in the 2019-20 playoff. At age 21, Luka is on his third season in the NBA. He averaged 24.7 points per game.
Luka joined Dallas Mavericks, and learn many great things from superstars Dirt Nowitzki. He quickly becomes the key players for the Mavericks and his teammates without hesitation to make sure he has the ball for the winning shot. He will be the future superstars.
Both Harden and Luka’s crafty and advance step-back three will becomes their unique signature moves in NBA history.
12. Tim Duncan – Backboard bank shot
Time Duncan has a nickname “The Big Fundamental”, he is one the best power forward in the league that is not crafty with his style. His dribble, post moves, and shot are nothing but fundamental. Some people might say his style of play is so boring because he is like a walking basketball fundamental textbook. But we have to respect Duncan, he is the true master in post-move and bank shot that people will use for reference.
Duncan is the nicest guy in the NBA. He often gives advice to his opponents on how to improve their game. But he is in no way a soft player being the nicest guy. In fact, his post-move is very threatening to the opposing team when he backs down on your post, and knock down jump shots off the glass easily.
His post move and the back shot are so solid that he becomes the greatest threat in the paint. Many players will not go for the bank shot regularly because it not as cool as a fadeaway or nothing but a net shot. But if you can get the angle right, the accuracy of your shot will definitely increase.
Duncan loves using the glass in his shot, whether it is turn around pull up jumper, post-move hook shot, or layup. Duncan’s signature backboard bank shot helped San Antonio Spurs won five NBA champi ons (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014).
Tim Duncan’s signature move is not fancy like Nowitzki’s fadeaway, but his solid performance makes it a very deadly shot off the glass that will have a special spot for him in the greatest signature moves in NBA history.
11. Magic Johnson – No-look-passes
Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard in the NBA. Being a 6’9″ didn’t hinder his swift dribble and crafty passes to his teammates. Magic’s no-look pass is an Art itself. He is one of the first ones in the NBA to do the crafty no-look passes regularly in the game. He is a big threat on the court because Magic can play any position on the team with his good balance skill. Magic is a great dribbler, passes, scorer, rebounders, and great leader.
His game bought entertainment for the fans, especially his no-look passes that excite the crowd. Many players have adopts his no-look passes style in the modern era.
Magic leads the La Lakers to five NBA final championships (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987,1988), 3x Final MVP (1980, 1982, 1987), 3x MVP (1987, 1989, 1990), 4x NBA assists leader (1983, 1984, 1986, 1897), and 2x NBA steals leader (1981, 1982). He was named the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history in 1996.
Magic displays his art in passing that goes down one of the best passers in NBA history. And he made the no-look-passes his signature move.
10. Tim Hardaway – Killer Crossover “UTEP 2-Step”
Tim Hardaway‘s killer crossover “UTEP 2-step” was a crossover he developed during his college basketball with UTEP Miners from 1985-1989.
Hardaway’s killer crossover was very explosive that often time left the defender took the bait in the fakes. His crossover had change how players dribble in basketball. Players become more crafty and more fakes in their dribble which leads to the killer crossover. There are many variations that develop from his UTEP 2-step, and he had broken a lot of ankles throughout his playing career.
Hardaway would drive down the lane with full speed and change directions with crossover, between the legs, or behind the back. His opponent would have a hard time matching his quick change of speed and left them frozen or stumble in their defense. He can easily score off with a layup, jump shot, or passes after the crossover. John Stockton had been the victim of this vicious killer crossover on many occasions.
9. Dirt Nowitzki – one-legged fadeaway
Dirk Nowitzki is one of the best European players in NBA history. His signature one-leg-fadeaway is nearly impossible to stop because of his height.
Nowitzki averaged 20.7 points per game, NBA champion in 2011, NBA final MVP in 2011, and most valuable player in 2007.
When it comes to fadeaway shots, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are the guys that made the fadeaway shot legendary. Fadeaway shot is one of the most difficult shots to make and defend. But when it comes to fadeaway with Nowitzki, he has his unique one-leg fadeaway shot that nearly unguardable.
Being a seven-footer, there are not many players in the league that can block his shot. But he utilized his greatest strengths, which are his quick dribbling for a big man, sharpshooting, range of shot, and height that makes his fadeaway more deadly.
Nowitzki’s shots look so unbalance that normal players will have a hard time making the bucket. But he can pull off the shot anywhere around the court. He had made many game-winning shots with his one-leg fadeaway that we lost count of. Nowitzki’s one-leg-fadeaway is one of the best signature moves in NBA history.
8. Manu Ginobili – Euro-step
Manu Ginobili’s signature move has to be his euro step he introduces when he came into the NBA league at 25 years old. Ginobili played in the Italian basketball league for seven years before joining the NBA.
Euro step is a move players pick up the ball after their last dribble, takes one step in one direction, and then quickly change direction in the next steps. This move created with the intention to allow the offensive player to avoid the defender, which may lead to an offensive foul (charge). This move was not created by Ginobili, in fact, it has a decades-long history in Europe. The earliest version of the euro-step was in 1960, by Đurović.
Ginobili brought the move that looks like a travel to the league and popularized in North America. The euro-step quickly becomes popular among the guards around the world and many players have this move in their bag of tricks. Dwyane Wade and James Harden utilized euro-step perfectly in their game. Defenders have a hard time drawing charges or defending players dribble down the lane. Many athletic players will finish off the euro step with a dunk.
According to the 2016 NBA TV, fans voted Ginobili’s Euro-step was the most popular NBA signature moves in history, he had a total of 74% vote. And fans will first think of Ginobili whenever euro-step was mention.
7. Dominique Wilkins – Tomahawk Dunk
Dominique Wilkins is one of the power dunkers in the 80s. Wilkins’s impressive vertical jump at 42 inches, along with 6’8″ gives him the advantage to pull of monstrous dunks in the game. His nickname is “The Human Highlight Film” because of his athleticism and highlight dunks.
A tomahawk dunk is done with one or two hands, the ball is typically above the head being the head, and the player will slam the ball down to the net with great momentum. For two hands dunk, players both hands are behind the head, and it was called a backscratcher. Many players like LeBron James and Russel Westbrook have incredible tomahawk dunks that became the highlight dunk of the week.
Wilkins displayed his vertical leaps and incredible dunks during the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, and he was the champion for 1985 and 1990. His trademarked dunks during the Slam Dunk Contest was the one or two hand windmill dunk. Vince Carter also won his Slam Dunk Contest with a windmill dunk.
Although Dominique Wilkin’s tomahawk dunk was not a unique NBA signature that moves only to him, he popularizes the monstrous dunks which can rival the top 5 dunks in NBA history.
6. Shaquille O’Neal – Black tornado
Shaquille O’Neal was one of the most dominant centers in the NBA league. He was so lethal under the paint that he actually broke the basket during his dunk against the Nets in 1993. He gave himself a name for his monstrous signature move “The Black Tornado” that no defender wants to be against it. Image if you get hit a 300-pounds spinning train, and there are bound to be some blood on the court.
His Black Tornado works by a jab step with his outside leg, applying all his weight into his defender, then he quickly spins toward the basket. His defender losses the balance from his spin move, and end up letting Shaq finished with an explosive dunk.
This move is so strong that it makes it unfair for the opposing team’s center. Some clever center will counter the black tornado moves by pulling the chair on Shaq when he leans his weight, or “Hack-the-Shaq” before he starts dribbling.
Shaq’s dominant moves are top six of our NBA signature moves list because of the pure power and explosive generate from 300 pounds center.
5. Allen Iverson Crossover
Allen Iverson “AI” was one of the shortest NBA guards in the league, but his height didn’t affect his skill in basketball. He had the most ankle breakers in the league with his killer Iverson crossover.
His quick and agile dribbling allowed him to change speed and direction at any moment, and it left his defender behind or tumble down. Iverson’s crossover became more famous when he crossover Michael Jordan in 1997 by faking MJ to go the opposite direction. He quickly crossover MJ to finish with a jumper. Although Jordan was one of the best players in the NBA, and was at his prime, being a rookie, Iverson is not afraid to crossover him.
Many young players study his crossover and some NBA players still use his crossover today. He also demonstrates his crafty crossover during the NBA final against La Lakers. During one play, Iverson crossed Tyronn Lue and made him stumble to the floor. After making the bucket when Lue fell on the floor, Iverson step over him to get back on the court.
AI’s crossover is one of the tops 10 NBA signature moves many players will continue to study.
4. Kobe Bryant – Dribble Reverse Spin Jumper
Kobe Bryant was one of the best shooting guards in the NBA league. He gives himself the nickname “Black Mamba” because he wants his basketball skill to reflect similarity to the eponymous snack’s skill to “strike with 99% accuracy at maximum speed, in rapid succession” We can see Kobe’s mentality to be the best in basketball. He was the most hard-working player on the court, and his hard work pays off in the game. It was sad to see him left us so soon. But we respect him for his hard work and dedication to being the best. If we can learn from his mentality, we can definitely succeed in life.
Kobe has a few signature moves in the NBA, but today, we’ll focus on his deadly dribble reverse spin jumper. The reverse spin jumper is commonly seen in the NBA, but Kobe utilized this move so smoothly in his play that it becomes his signature move. He likes to use this move when the defender knows he will drive to the basket. He would catch the ball in post position, reverse pivot to face the basket, one dribble, reverse spin and pull up jumper. Kobe likes to add a little fadeaway in his jumper to makes it tougher for his defender to guard. He performs the reverse spin jumper so beautifully that it almost looks like an artist dancing on the court.
Kobe averaged 25 points per game, and a career-high 61 points won against New York Knicks on February 2, 2009. Although Achilles’s injury kept him out of the games, he came back strong and score 60 points in his last game before he retired.
Kobe’s style of play has greatly influenced by Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. He likes to use fadeaway along with dream shake move. We will forever miss Kobe, the greatest player and hard-working player in the league. RIP
3. Hakeem Olajuwon – Dream Shakes
Hakeem Olajuwon‘s signature moves have put many NBA players in embarrassing moments when they went for his fakes.
Olajuwon is 7 feet tall in the center position, but his incredible speed and agility make him tough to guard. He created the dream shake that was one of the best footwork for the big man. He created the move to literally shakes off his opponents for uncontested shots.
The key points of dream shake were to misdirect your opponent in going the opposite direction, freeze your opponent the moment they realize your fake, and lastly to shake off your opponent and open up space for you to shoot without contesting for the shot.
Olajuwon had embarrassed David Robinson numerous times with his trademarked Dream Shakes during the 1995 NBA Playoffs
We see many big guys in the league use this move, but Kobe Bryant had studied with Olajuwon and utilizes this move in his play that embarrassed his opponent in the court. Even Yao Ming studied with Olajuwon for his dream shakes move.
Dream Shakes is definitely one of the best NBA signature moves we see players use in our current time. This move will continue to display in our future NBA games.
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Skyhook
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar definitely the godfather of the skyhook. His signature moves had dominated many NBA players, and it was impossible to stop.
Skyhook is basically a hook shot in which you use your entire body in a smooth motion to raise the ball and release it at the highest point. The ball’s trajectory will reach the highest point and drop down accurately to the basket. Kareem used his greatest advantage, his height at 7’2″ and long arms to dominate his opponents with the skyhook. The defender needs to jump a lot higher than Kareem’s highest ball release point to block the shot. But the defender will end up getting a goaltending violation if they attempt to block the shot after it was released.
We don’t see skyhook use in NBA as much in our current era, but from time to time, players will use it. There are many variations of skyhook like baby hook shot or regular hook shot. Kareem’s teammate, Magic Johnson used his own “baby hook” after the influence of skyhook. But baby hook still can outmatch the skyhook.
1. Michael Jordan – Fadeaway
If you talk about fadeaway shots, Michael Jordan definitely the one with the best fadeaway. His mastery of this move that makes it his signature moves many NBA players want to copy.
Fadeaway shot is done when a player rises up for the jumper, they lean back slightly before releasing the shot. The key point of the lean back is to create extra space for you to release the ball without getting interrupted by your defender. If the shot is done correctly, it was the most difficult shot to block.
Jordan likes to start off with a post move and rise up for a fadeaway when his opponent is off-balance. The difficulty of this shot is your body’s momentum is not as balanced as a regular jump shot. Your body will lean back during the fadeaway, and you need to maintain your balance and accurately made the shot. Jordan makes fadeaway looks so easy, but in reality, this shot is very difficult. Kobe Bryant is by far one of the players who have the best fadeaway shot after Jordan.
Jordan made many winning shots with his fadeaway and led the Chicago Bulls with six NBA Championships.
Throughout NBA history, many highlights play still memorize us after decades. These NBA Signature moves are the legacy of each player. Their moves will continue to study by the younger generation. And they will take these moves and display to the world how incredible it was. Just like how Michael Jordan’s signature moves “fadeaway” inspired Kobe Bryant, and it had become his signature moves after the Jordan era.
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