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Weekly Nickel: Top five NBA reactions after making a big play

While watching the first round of the NBA playoffs and seeing so many amazing plays, I always find myself paying attention more to the how the players react after making the big shot or block than the actual next play. Does the player just go about their business and keep playing, or do they add a little style on the trip back down the court and, in some of these cases, create an iconic image in the process?

For those that chose the latter, this is the list. Depending on who you root for, you either love or loathe them. Some of them, maybe even both. Sometimes the player has made the gesture repeatedly over his career, and sometimes one time was more than enough to stay with us even years later. So after a few beers and thinking about some of the best reactions I’ve seen after a big play, this is the result.

Top 5 NBA reactions (and honorable mentions):

Let’s start this trip down NBA memory lane. First, the honorable mentions, then we’ll count backwards until we hit the number one spot. Let me know who you think I missed.

Honorable Mentions

Shawn Kemp’s Finger Pointing: In a memorable 1992 (wow, was it really 18 years ago) dunk over Alton Liston of the Golden State Warriors, Kemp cupped the ball as he semi-windmilled it around, spread his legs and tomahawked it through the net, all over the unsuspecting Liston, who was knocked to the ground.

It was a serious facial, but Kemp made sure Liston would never forget it. So Kemp then squatted and further humiliated Liston by pointing at him with both hands, and then alternating them. You could hear Kemp thinking in his head, “Damn, that was in your face. In. Your. Face. You should probably just go back to the bench now.”

Vince Carter’s It’s Over

If this would have happened in a game, it would have been near the top of the list, but it was the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest, where Vince Carter put on the single best slam dunk performance of all time. No debating that. I’m sorry, I won’t even hear your argument because I’m too busy picking up my jaw after watching Carter’s Reverse 360 Windmill dunk.

After that dunk, pretty much everyone watching knew Vince Carter was the champion. Kenny Smith, who was one of the commentators, started saying, “Let’s go home!” But Carter followed it up with a 180 windmill from behind the backboard, and then the dunk that prompted “It’s Over.”

Tracy McGrady (his then Toronto Raptors’ teammate) was near the rim and bounced the ball off the ground, as Carter ran from the 3-point line. Carter then caught the ball in the air, put it between his legs, and dunked it. It was ridiculous, and Carter looked at the camera, put both hand across his throat, and said, “It’s over.”

And it was.

Carter did still have two more dunks in the final round, one where he put his elbow through the rim and hung for a couple of seconds and the his two-handed dunk from about a foot inside the free throw line. Not nearly as impressive as his first 3 dunks, but they didn’t need to be. It was already his to lose.

For the video of all the dunks and a great piece TNT did on the Carter’s 2000 Dunk Contest, check this out. Definitely worth the 9 minutes.

While I really enjoy the above reactions, it’s time to move on the best. The top five. Let me know if you agree (I’m sure you will.)

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Brian's been covering sports in some capacity for the last 10 years, including high school, collegiate and professional. He's covered two Final Fours, a few college bowl games and a NBA championship season.

Brian has written 227 posts for SportsNickel.com

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  1. Tye says:

    You forgot:

    Quinten Richardson/Darius Miles fists on the forehead

    Vince Carter's motorcycle

    Vince Carter's Omega

    Vince Carter's touch the ground shoulder shake after his in game 360

    • Brian Brian says:

      I was thinking about the Omega, but was it Vince Carter or Shaq who started it? And the fists is nice, but man, I don't think I could give props to Richardson or Miles. And you must be a big Vince fan…?

  2. “This is my house!! This is my house!!!”

    • Brian Brian says:

      Yeah, Wade's "This is My House" was my last cut. It was going to be in my Honorable Mention, but I don't think it's as recognizable and attributable as the others are. It was just too common an expression, though he did give it a little style when he beat the Nets with that 3-pointer and kind of pointed to the ground.

  3. anon says:

    how can you forget mutombo's finger wag?

    • Brian Brian says:

      Yeah, Mutombo was in my rough draft list, but I couldn't, in my mind, justify removing any of the other 5. Though it should have at least been in my honorable mention.

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