NBA's 10 Most Captivating Highlight-Reel Moments in 2012

Luke Petkac@@LukePetkacFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2012

NBA's 10 Most Captivating Highlight-Reel Moments in 2012

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    The NBA calender year is wrapping up, so let's take a look back at the 10 most captivating highlight-reel moments of 2012.

    The NBA's slogan is "Where Amazing Happens," and "Amazing" happened quite a bit in 2012. 

    There were slams, dimes, swats and game-winners to go around this year, but a few moments stood out from the rest of the pack:

Honorable Mentions

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    There were about a kazillion captivating highlight-reel moments that didn't quite make the cut, but here are a few of the best.

    Gordon Hayward swats the Boston Celtics.

    Derrick Rose hits the step-back dagger.

    Blake Griffin embarrasses Pau Gasol.

    The Denver Nuggets run the fast break right.

    Manu Ginobili's laser pass.

No. 10: Avery Bradley Sends It Back

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    Dwyane Wade is perhaps the greatest shot-blocking guard that the league has ever seen, but this time it was his turn to get rejected.

    Avery Bradley is a defensive dynamo, someone that even LeBron James calls one of the best defenders in the league, and he showed Wade exactly how he got that reputation with this block.

    Wade got thrown to the ground by the guy who looks like he'll be the best wing defender in the league for the next 10 years. You've got to say, that seems like a pretty good “passing of the torch” moment.

    Admittedly, the whole “Shane Battier immediately drills a three-pointer” thing kind of took away from the block a little bit. But still, pretty amazing.

No. 9: Andre Miller Plays Quarterback

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    Rajon Rondo seems to think that he could have played in the NFL, but Andre Miller made his own case with this full-court heave. Seriously, how many players would have even attempted that pass, let alone actually get it to work?

    Kudos to Corey Brewer as well, who didn't just make the correct pass to JaVale McGee, but also reminded everyone just how great the Denver Nuggets can be in the open court. When everything's clicking for them, few teams are as downright fun as the Nuggets are.

No. 8: Serge Ibaka Becomes Serge "Iblocka"

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    They don't call Serge Ibaka “The Serge Protector” for nothing.

    Ibaka's timing is just ridiculous.

    He times Antawn Jamison beautifully on the first swat, rotates perfectly to help against Alonzo Gee on the second and springs up just in time to reject Gee again for the third and final block.

    There were more forceful swats this year (many of them supplied by Ibaka), but watching Gee frantically dribble out of the paint so as to avoid Ibaka was by far the most captivating.

No. 7: Carmelo in the Clutch

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    Carmelo Anthony already had some great moments in a New York Knicks uniform, but his pair of all-or-nothing threes against the Chicago Bulls felt different. It almost felt like the city was welcoming him back again after he ran “Linsanity” into the ground.

    These shots are basically Carmelo Anthony in a nutshell. You have to take the good (his transcendent scoring talent) with the bad (his iffy shot selection) and hope that the positives outweigh the negatives.

    And on this night, much to the delight of a frenzied Knicks crowd, they absolutely did.

No. 6: Russell Westbrook's Impossible Bank Shot

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    If you could draw up a play that perfectly epitomizes Russell Westbrook, it would look pretty dang close to this one.

    An absolutely crazy off-balance prayer while being wrapped up by Ramon Sessions, followed, of course, by a patented Westbrook celebration.

    It's equal parts reckless, exciting, breathtaking and captivating. In a word, it's Russell Westbrook.

No. 5: Gerald Green Does Gerald Green Things

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    You know how you sometimes hear that a player "plays above the rim” or that he can “jump out of the gym?” Gerald Green is the one guy who makes those sayings seem like fact rather than hyperbole.

    It's almost like Green chooses to come down only after he's done dunking. If there was no basket, he would just go up forever.

    One thing's for sure, whether it's blowing out candles on the rim, or this ridiculous windmill alley-oop, Gerald Green has always shown a consistent and astonishing ability to soar.

No. 4: Harrison Barnes Destroys Nikola Pekovic

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    Pure devastation.

    That's the best way to describe what Harrison Barnes did to Nikola Pekovic. It's hard to say what Pekovic did to drive Barnes to the point of assaulting him like this, but whatever it was, it must have been bad.

    How does this even happen?

    Pekovic is roughly the size (and has near the same amount of hair) as a large bear, but somehow Barnes shook him off like he was nothing. If this isn't already a lock for dunk of the year, it's about as close as it can get.

No. 3: Blake Griffin Dunks All over Kendrick Perkins

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    This is Blake Griffin's masterpiece. Since he's Blake, there's a good chance that he'll top it eventually (you just know that Chris Paul's going to set him up for the dunk of all dunks at some point), but at the moment, this is his crowning achievement.

    Blake's dunked on a lot of guys in his career, with many, many more to come. But he's never dunked this violently on a player—and definitely not on a player with the reputation for defense and sheer nastiness that Kendrick Perkins has.

    Judging by the way that it almost caused Twitter to explode (probably), this was truly the “dunk heard 'round the world.”

    (Big props to Perk for actually trying to play defense on that dunk. He knew that he might get put on a Blake Griffin poster, but did his job anyways instead of ducking away like so many other players would. Well done.)

No. 2: Kevin Durant's Game-Winner over Shawn Marion

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    There were tons of buzzer-beaters and game winners in 2012, but this one ultimately topped them all.

    What was riding on this shot is what makes it so spectacular. The Oklahoma City Thunder were losing control against the Dallas Mavericks (the team that knocked them out of the playoffs the season prior) in a crucial Game 1 at home.

    Lose this game and the tone of the series drastically changes. Not on Kevin Durant's watch.

    This is one of those classic “great offense beats great defense” plays. You've got to give credit to Shawn Marion—he didn't give Durant an inch of space. You couldn't play that shot any better.

    But, of course, because it was Kevin Durant (an absolute Mavericks destroyer), his ridiculous one-handed floater got a great bounce and dropped in. Go figure.

No. 1: LeBron James Jumps over John Lucas

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    This dunk is one for the ages. It's Tom Chambers over Mark Jackson. It's Michael Jordan on Patrick Ewing. But the slam also says a lot about LeBron James too.

    James' dunk over John Lucas happened in the same week that Blake Griffin dunked all over Kendrick Perkins. And despite James' dunk being just as impressive (if not more so), all anyone wanted to talk about was the Griffin dunk.

    That right there says worlds about LeBron James. He's made the spectacular look totally and utterly average for so long that he can freaking jump over someone and be met with a shrug. Unbelievable. LeBron James, ladies and gentlemen.


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