Wilt Chamberlain’s “Big Dipper”, Michael Jordan’s iconic fadeaway, George Gervin’s finger roll, and Hakeem Olajuwon’s Dream Shake are some of the most memorable signature moves in NBA history. But for many coveted experts, it is Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s legendary skyhook that seals the deal. Scottie Pippen is one of them, who believes it to be the most lethal signature move of all time.
In a conversation with Rachel Nichols, Pippen disclosed his favorite signature move. Nicholas queried, “What are some of the unguardable moves you’ve ever seen or played against?” The 1995 steals leader immediately replied, “Kareem[Abdul-Jabbar], sky hook.” There is a reason why the forward, who played against Abdul-Jabbar, believed so.
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To start the move, the 7’2” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would clasp the ball in both hands. Then he’d usually lift the ball from knee-up, fending the defenders with his left hand and bending his right knee at 90 degrees, making sure that his body was upright while taking the shot.
What made his shot unblockable was that the release point was about 10-11 feet, almost parallel to the rim. That’s why Pip considers this move unstoppable. Moreover, considering the NBA is a “copycat” league, Nichols wondered why such an indomitable move disappeared from the game.
“I think that kind of shot escaped the game, kind of left with the great one[Kareem] because there’s really no teaches it. I’ve seen the guys use the jump hook, but not the sky hook,” responded the 1994 All-Star Game MVP.
Pip’s comments reflect that it is not the personal will of the athletes that quashed the move. It is the lack of coaching and awareness about it. Meanwhile, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has different reasons why his move has gone out of style.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar explained why his signature shot disappeared
As per the outspoken NBA legend, young athletes shy away from the move because “everyone is so enamored with the 3-point shot.” The second all-time leading scorer failed to understand why athletes don’t prefer the two-point basket which has a higher likelihood to go in. Because he understood the value of easy baskets from up close, he made sure that he mastered the iconic move.
“I worked on that hook shot and learned how to get position close to the basket where I could get my hook shot off,” expressed the 2x NBA scoring champion.
While Abdul-Jabbar credits the love affair with the long-range shot as the reason for the disappearance of the glorious shot, 28-year-old Karl Anthony-Towns echoed Scottie Pippen’s sentiments of the lack of teaching about it. When asked why he hasn’t mastered the signature move, he responded, “Nobody ever taught me the sky hook.”
It can also be argued that it is a tough shot to master, considering the number of motions. During a jump hook, one has to just align their feet to the basket and release the ball. But the skyhook requires bending the right knee and acquiring a maximum extension. But as per the master of the move himself, “It’s not a hard shot to learn, It gives you all the fundamentals.”
Even though it might be a harder shot comparatively, it can not be denied that the league has several candidates with wizardry to master it. Maybe if coaches take the initiative, current big men could also flex similar shots on the paint.