Unstoppable! The 3 most Unguardable Moves in NBA history.

The 3 Most Unstoppable NBA Moves of All-Time

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The NBA has a rich and storied history of incredible athletes and talented players; but every so often a great player will develop a move that defenders find nearly impossible to stop. These three NBA legends used their unstoppable move over the course of their careers to score thousands of points and humiliate defenders in the process.



At the peak of their powers these players left defenders feeling helpless and vulnerable. The criterion for selecting these moves was based solely on the “unstoppable nature” of the move in question. Was the move in question so deadly that opposing teams often had to double the offensive player? Did the move become a signature part of the player’s offensive arsenal? Did the move have the capability of decimating any defender who tried to check the player in question?

This short list has nothing to do with the totality of a players career or their overall body of work; this list is all about the move. 

I’ve broken down what made each move so unstoppable so that you can learn to incorporate these moves into you game. At the very least this should help you as you develop your own signature move. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself as you think about how to develop an unstoppable move.


1.What athletic gifts do I have that will allow me to develop a signature move?


2.What skills do I have already that I can use to build a killer move? 


3.Where in my teams offense do I catch the ball and how can I be most effective in that system?


4. What can I do in practice that will develop this ability?


5. What can I learn from the great players about how they used their move to destroy defenders?


Let’s take a quick look at three of the most unstoppable NBA moves of all-time.


Allen Iverson Crossover 

The Iverson crossover became the signature calling card for one of the most explosive point guards to ever play in the NBA. Iverson’s 15-year NBA career will largely be remembered for his ability to break down defenders off the dribble. His relatively diminutive stature at only 6-feet tall put him at a seeming disadvantage against taller, longer defenders. Instead, Iverson used his quickness and incredible ability to change direction to destroy defenders with one of the most deadly NBA moves of all time.

So what made Iverson’s crossover so deadly…? A few things.

Allen  Iverson drives

1. His “False” first-step

Iverson would frequently jab in one direction to set up his defender before he executed his killer crossover. This ‘false first-step’ would get the defender moving backward or sideways allowing Iverson to quick change direction and create space for an open jumper or drive to the hoop.


2. The Double-Cross

Because of his reputation as a player with an explosive first step, Iverson would often use an initial crossover to set up a secondary move that would completely disorient his defender. He was especially effective when coming off ball-screens because he would cross over towards the ball-screen (making his defender think he was going to use the pick) then quickly counter with a crossover away from the screen opening a drive the hoop.


3. The Setup

Iverson would frequently set up his defender with an initial move (or a series of several different dribble fakes) to put the defender on uneven footing. Once the defender was unsure which way Iverson wanted to go, he would blow past them or create separation for an open midrange jumper. His quickness, ball-handling, and ability to knock down the midrange jumper made it virtually impossible to stop him 1 on 1.


The Dirk Nowitzki Step-back Fadeaway

Dirk’s combination of shooting touch and height has made him one of the most difficult players to guard in the history of the NBA. Dirk’s 7-foot frame combined with his silky-smooth jumper is a tough cover for any NBA defender. His height, shooting ability, and scoring prowess has made Dirk one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. He currently sits 9th all-time in NBA scoring with nearly 28,000 career points, shooting 47% from the field and a respectable 38% from 3-point range. The primary weapon of choice for this all-time great is his deadly stepback fadeaway. Here are few reasons that make this move nearly unstoppable.


1. The Body-Bump

Dirk is a master of using a variety of spin moves and back-downs to initially create contact with his defender. Once he has established contact, he will use this leverage to then separate from his defender once he decides to shoot his fadeaway. The space he creates through this contact gives him two things: it gives him a clear vision of the hoop as he rises up for his jumper and it gives him enough time to shoot over long, athletic defenders.

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2. High Release

The combination of Dirk’s height and his high release make it nearly impossible for any defender to block his shot. Dirk releases the ball slightly behind his head which affords him an extra few inches of precious space to get off a clean shot against pesky defenders. His high release also puts the ball into a high arching trajectory, which gives him a soft shot. This high release has been perfected through countless hours of practice, and Dirk has become a master of using this tool to his advantage.


3. One-Footed Stepback

Dirk regularly uses a single footed step back fadeaway. Jumping off one foot allows him to fade away at a slightly more exaggerated angle than would be possible off two feet. This is just another adjustment in Dirk’s arsenal that allows him to create maximum separation from his defender. His graceful, fading, one-footed stepback is impossible to guard. Defenders have no chance of stopping this move, they can only hope to contest.



Kareem Abdul-Jabar Skyhook

Kareem’s skyhook is widely regarded as the greatest basketball weapon ever unleashed. The cornerstone of his offensive game, Kareem used the skyhook to score well over 38,000 points in his 20 year NBA career. The next closes player Karl Malone is a full 2000 points behind him in all-time NBA scoring. Kareem’s skyhook was the most dominant single move in NBA history, and here’s why.


1. Release Point

In contrast with a conventional hook shot, Kareem released his skyhook a good distance away from his body. When interviewed about his patented move, he says he can’t remember his shot ever getting blocked by his primary defender (meaning another defender could have possible snuck behind him and swiped at the ball). Kareem would position his body so that his off-shoulder would be squarely between the defender and his shooting hand. In order for the defender to block his shot he would have to go through Kareem’s body and reach the outstretched shooting hand to get to the ball; a nearly impossible task.


2. Ambidextrous

Kareem could shoot his skyhook with either hand from anywhere on the floor. This gave him the flexibility to destroy defenders in a variety of ways, depending on how they decided to play him. He could shoot from different locals and from varying distances with either hand. Kareem was even known to shoot his running skyhook from as far as the free-throw line. This combination of shooting flexibility made him unstoppable.

3. Lift and Athleticism

In addition to his 7’2’’ frame and high release point, Kareem had incredible lift to his shot. His athleticism gave him the ability to create separation from his defender and shoot a beautiful, soft shot. When Kareem started his shooting motion he would leap over defenders and release his skyhook at the optimal point. His lift and athleticism only augmented what was an already unstoppable move.

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