Best and Worst NBA Harlem Shake Videos

Luke Petkac@@LukePetkacFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2013

It's Harlem Shake time, everybody.
It's Harlem Shake time, everybody.

Unless you were blessed with titanic willpower, then you probably hate all of the Harlem Shake videos, yet can't stop yourself from clicking on one when it pops up on YouTube.

Don't worry. It's happened to all of us.

The Harlem Shake craze has taken on a life of its own in recent weeks. And now that it's sweeping through the NBA, it's getting even harder not to pay attention to.

There have been a few NBA-related Harlem Shake videos (the Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns' mascots have all starred in one recently), but there are only three that are worth watching—videos by the Miami Heat, the Toronto Raptors and, believe it or not, the Inside the NBA crew.

Even if you do hate the Harlem Shake, you're at least bound to get a kick out of these.

No. 3: Inside the NBA studio

Shaquille O'Neal tried. He really did. And if Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson had joined in, their video would have taken the top spot for sure. But, as it stands, they'll have to settle for being watchable. Still beats 99 percent of all other Harlem Shake attempts.

Most of the video isn't overly memorable, but it's easily worth watching for Chest Pass Guy (the guy in the bottom-left corner) alone.

A surefire member of the Mark Madsen “I can't dance, so just save me from myself” club, Chest Pass Guy (wisely) opts not to dance. And after watching this video like 12 times, I've concluded that nothing is funnier than a man working on his basketball fundamentals in the middle of a dance video. Brilliant work.

Though, to be honest, the red suit was definitely a misfire. He should've gone with the vintage “rec specs and short shorts” look that Kurt Rambis made timeless. Still gets an A for effort though.

No. 2: Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors had the first NBA Harlem Shake video, and it's pretty great.

First off, you've got to give a tip of the hat to the Raptors' costume choices. Most of the players apparently decided that one costume wasn't good enough and chose to piece together two or three unrelated things. Bold choice.

The question now is: Whose costume was best? Between Amir Johnson's ghoul mask/chicken suit, the guy in the ghoul mask/Superman suit, the gigantic Elvis Presley costume and DeMar DeRozan's fuzzy, lime-green suit and matching hat, there's some pretty steep competition. Amir's the odds-on favorite, but only by the narrowest of margins.

It was also nice to see Raptors head coach Dwane Casey make an appearance, even if all he did was stand around and shake his head in disbelief. Though if he was thinking about the Raptors current place in the standings, his disbelief is understandable.

The best part of the video is at the end, when someone walks by the room right as John Lucas is breaking into his solo. I would pay good money to know exactly what that man was thinking when he walked by.

(Note: This dance is only the second-funniest thing that Amir Johnson has done this season, the funniest being a double dribble so egregious that even Amir can't believe he got away with it.)

No. 1: Miami Heat

The Miami Heat seem to win everything these days. I really didn't want to have to put the Heat's version at No. 1 since they basically just ripped off the Raptors, but the Heat's video was better. Plain and simple.

There's a lot to love about this video, including:

  • LeBron James opening the dance with one of the creepiest smiles in recent memory.
  • A guy in a Santa hat and bandana fist-pumping while being pushed around by a guy in a multi-colored sombrero.
  • Norris Cole wearing something that may or may not have belonged to Carlton Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
  • This outfit:
  • Chris “Birdman” Anderson submitting a performance that belongs in the Weirdness Hall of Fame by standing still with his arms raised while everyone else is dancing.
  • Mario Chalmers proving that it is indeed possible to dance with just your arms.
  • Mario Chalmers making me wonder how he only averages a career 1.5 steals per game if he can move his arms that fast.


Love or hate the Harlem Shake, it's hard to deny that these videos can be entertaining. It doesn't look like the dance craze is going anywhere for the time being, so there's a pretty good chance that we see more teams give it their best shot in the near future.

No complaints here if any of them work in a Mark Madsen cameo. Actually, that needs to happen.