Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook has often been touted as basketball’s most unguardable shot. But the trademark Dirk Nowitzki one-legged fade also deserves a mention.
Every legendary NBA player has one move that more or less encapsulates his entire arsenal of skills. You have the pretty Dream Shake for Hakeem. There’s Chris Paul and his elbow jumper – the one spot that he’s probably the GOAT from.
Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan really became legendary when they both successfully incorporated a working fadeaway jumper. Tim Duncan’s bank shot might be the single most unspectacular signature move.
There’s also the James Harden step-back, Ginobili’s Eurostep, both of which are staple moves for elite scorers today. But perhaps the single most unstoppable move out of these is the one-legged fadeaway made popular by one Dirk Nowitzki.
The German 7-footer came into the league and broke the prototype for how a power forward could play. We’d heard of the term ‘stretch forward’ before, but nobody would ever typify it quite like Dirk.
When Nowitzki got his shot going, there was not a player in the league with a more unstoppable scoring arsenal. Dirk could fill it up from anywhere and against anyone because he used his guile more than his hops. Like Larry Bird, he knew how to use his opponents’ strengths against them.
Dirk Nowitzki broke down the genesis of the iconic Dirk Fade on Twitter Spaces last month
Dirk Nowitzki was duly inducted into the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team at the start of the 2021-22 season. The German big man revealed how he began developing his signature shot on a Twitter Spaces appearance:
“I was trying to create a shot that I could always shoot – that doesn’t take a lot of energy. I was comfortable shooting off one leg. Since I was 15, 16 years old, I always worked on runners and running hook shots.”
“So I was always comfortable shooting off one leg, and so I kinda just made it up on the fly. Honestly, I shot it once and it felt good. And it didn’t a lot of energy, then I shot it a little more and more as part of my repertoire.”
— NBA (@NBA) December 7, 2021