The blocked shot is an imperfect science, but when it works, it can be a game-changer. It can bring the crowd out of their seats and have the front row celebrities ducking.
Some of the most dominant defensive players in NBA history have been masters of the blocked shots.
But we're not looking for the best shot-blockers here—although a lot of them are on this list.
Instead, we're going to be looking at some of the best blocks in NBA history, the ones that leave the bench in awe and the offense frustrated in disbelief.
With that in mind, here are the best blocks in NBA history.
Howard will show up a couple of times on this list as one of the premier shot-blockers in the game today, but this block on Rajon Rondo was pretty impressive.
First being able to track down one of the fastest players on the court, then being able to block the shot with his left hand. Very nice.
It's not the "swat the ball into the fourth row" type of of block, but any time you can block LeBron James in the paint, that's impressive. Yes, it was a layup, but it's still pretty good.
How can you have a top block list and not include one of the best centers in the history of the game? There was another block on a Jerry West jump shot that was impressive as well, but this block just shows the flat-out dominance of Russell in his prime.
There are a few impressive blocks on this highlight package, but the one about 22 seconds in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (from his Milwaukee days as Lew Alcindor) has a certain dominance to it that perfectly sums up Chamberlain's career as one of the best centers of all time.
One of the premier centers of his time and of our era, Olajuwon had many phenomenal blocks in his career.
This one on John Starks in the final seconds to preserve the win in Game 6 of the 1994 NBA Finals might be one of his best, if only for the situation it came in.
Another Olajuwon block on the list, this one on one of the better defensive centers of his time in David Robinson.
Of course, what makes this block even more impressive is not just the block itself, but that it was an outright rejection.
When you think of shot-blocking centers, Duncan doesn't come to mind as much as some of the other big-name centers of our era. But a block on Yao Ming is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you take the ball away from him.
The two current Pistons teammates met many times during the early portion of McGrady's career, when he was putting up monster numbers (and not getting out of the first round) and Wallace was becoming one of the best low-post defenders in the game.
This monster block shows off the great timing, instinct and power of Wallace.
This was vintage Shaq, dominant and powerful. He was one of the best, and there's a reason why he was one of the more dominant centers of all time. Michael Jordan found that out the hard way here.
It's only fair that since we showed Shaq rejecting MJ, we would include MJ rejecting Shaq. Considering Jordan was never considered to be a fantastic shot-blocker, blocking a rookie Shaq and stealing the ball in one fell swoop is pretty impressive.
This block had to be in there somewhere, and this was a pretty good place to put it. James probably gets away with a foul, but to block a 360 dunk from one of the better players in the league and a former Slam Dunk Contest champion is something.
LeBron's had some nice blocks, and this might be one of his better ones. James reaching back and blocking Bryant while he tried to throw down a monster dunk is a great show of athleticism on both sides and a big reason why they're two of the best players in the game.
Wallace was beginning to decline when he made this block, but he still showed the ability to have the timing and athleticism to make blocks like this.
This is a textbook Wallace block, right from the leaping ability to the right-handed swat to the ball landing on the concourse.
Nocioni is known as a good defender, but we've never seen him be a dominant low-post defender like he was here.
Larry Hughes is not a fantastic player, but he was a very good player when he was teamed with Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison.
Either way, it's still an impressive block.
How can there be a list of the best blocks of all time and not include Mutombo and his famous finger wag?
This one on Longley while Mutombo was a Hawk might not have been one of the flashiest, but it showed some of what made Mutombo the best. The reach, the jumping ability—and yes, the finger wag.
Kemp was perhaps one of the more underrated power forwards of the 1990s, especially when he was in Seattle. He's known more as an offensive player, but he had defensive skill as well, as this monster block against Michael Jordan and the Bulls shows.
What most people will remember from the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals, other than the amazingly low final scores, is this block from Game 2.
Prince made the play of the playoffs at the time, and it symbolized what was so good about those Pistons teams from a few years back.
Perhaps the most infamous block in NBA history: Nate Robinson (albeit Slam Dunk Contest champion Nate Robinson) climbing up to block Yao Ming.
It's a great show of athleticism by Robinson to get that high, while it somewhat sums up Yao's NBA career to this point.
Another appearance by Olajuwon, but this might be his best yet. Rod Strickland wasn't exactly a giant in the NBA, but he was one of the better guards in the league.
This block showed not only Olajuwon's speed and athleticism, but also the raw power to reject that ball and send it flying. There was more to Hakeem than just the "Dream Shake."
Alonzo Mourning was a great center in an era of great centers and low-post players, but this is perhaps the best block I've ever seen.
The athleticism, the coordination, the absolute power to reject the shot—it takes a special player to make a play like that, and it's the best block in NBA history.