Alley-oop (basketball)

Last updated
20130103 Alley Oop (2).jpg
20130103 Alley Oop (4).jpg
20130103 Alley Oop (5).jpg
Trey Burke sets up an alley-oop to Glenn Robinson III for Michigan during its 2012–13 Big Ten Conference season opener on January 3 against Northwestern.

An alley-oop in basketball is an offensive play in which one player throws the ball near the basket to a teammate who jumps, catches the ball in mid air and slam dunks it before touching the ground.


The alley-oop combines elements of teamwork, pinpoint passing, timing and finishing.

Origin of the term

The term "alley-oop" is derived from the French term allez hop!, the cry of a circus acrobat about to leap. [1] The term Alley Oop was first popularized in the US in 1932 as the name of a syndicated comic strip created by cartoonist V. T. Hamlin. In sports the term "alley-oop" first appeared in the 1950s by the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL to describe a high arcing pass from quarterback Y. A. Tittle to wide receiver R.C. Owens, who would outleap smaller cornerbacks for touchdown receptions ("The Catch", the Dwight Clark touchdown reception from Joe Montana by which the 49ers gained entry into their first Super Bowl, was also an "alley-oop" pass) and later became better known from its use in basketball.


In the 1950s, some players began grabbing balls in mid-air and then dunking. K. C. Jones and Bill Russell teamed up to perform the alley-oop several times while at the University of San Francisco in the mid-1950s. [2] [3]

In addition, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain at the University of Kansas and 'Jumping' Johnny Green at Michigan State University would frequently grab errant shots by teammates and dunk them. This resulted in a tightening in the enforcement of offensive goaltending rules in NCAA and NBA basketball in the late 1950s. [2]

The Phillips 66ers of the National Industrial Basketball League had an alley-oop play in its playbook where Charlie Bowerman would pass the ball to Don Kojis. [4] Kojis played two seasons for the 66ers between 1961 and 1963 making that the time period when the play was executed. [5]

Al Tucker and his brother Gerald at Oklahoma Baptist University are sometimes mistakenly credited with being the first to use the alley-oop in the mid-60s. [6] In Bill Walton's record-setting 44-point, 21-for-22 shooting performance for UCLA in the 1973 NCAA championship game against Memphis State, six of his baskets came on alley-oop plays.

Some others credit David Thompson as the first player to execute the classic alley-oop play while at North Carolina State University, with his teammates Monte Towe and Tim Stoddard performing the necessary lob passes. NCSU's Thompson popularized the play during the early 1970s, exploiting his 44-inch vertical leap to make the above-the-rim play a recurring staple in the Wolfpack's offensive attack. [7] Because dunking was illegal in college basketball at that time, upon catching the pass, Thompson would simply drop the ball through the hoop – never dunking one until the final play of the final home game of his career.

After a decade of dunking prohibition ended in the NCAA in 1976, the alley-oop became associated in the late 1970s with Michigan State's Earvin 'Magic' Johnson and Greg Kelser. The duo connected for many highlight alley-oops and would showcase the play in their 1979 national championship run, including the most watched game in the history of the sport, the famed Magic vs. Bird championship game. [8] Three years later, unheralded Idaho made the alley-oop an integral part of their undersized offense in 1982, [9] ended the regular season eighth in both major polls at 26–2, [10] [11] and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. [12]

The following year, North Carolina State also won the national championship on what could be considered the most famous alley-oop of all time against heavily-favored Houston in the 1983 championship game at The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With time running out and the score tied, guard Dereck Whittenburg shot short of the rim, which effectively functioned as a pass to Lorenzo Charles, who caught the ball and stuffed it through the net to win the title in a huge upset. [13] [14] [15]

During the 1990s, NBA stars turned the alley-oop into the game's ultimate quick-strike weapon. In recent years.[ clarification needed ] teams have often run the alley-oop as a planned play. The 2008 National Champions Kansas Jayhawks had several designs for alley-oops, including some thrown from inbound sets, and could execute them interchangeably with almost all of the players being able to both lob and finish the play.

In the 2008 film Semi-Pro , protagonist Jackie Moon, played by Will Ferrell, invents the alley-oop after being knocked unconscious and speaking with his deceased mother in a depiction of Heaven. The crowd and announcers are left nearly speechless, unable to comprehend what happened. The referee is dumbfounded and feels the play should be a foul, and maybe even two fouls. Monix, played by Woody Harrelson, breaks down the mechanics of the play and convinces the referee that it's worth two points. This play allowed the fictional Flint Tropics to rally back and eventually defeat the San Antonio Spurs.

See also

Related Research Articles

Slam dunk Basketball technique

A slam dunk, also simply dunk, is a type of basketball shot that is performed when a player jumps in the air, controls the ball above the horizontal plane of the rim, and scores by putting the ball directly through the basket with one or both hands above the rim. It is considered a type of field goal; if successful, it is worth two points. Such a shot was known as a "dunk shot" until the term "slam dunk" was coined by former Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn.

Julius Erving American basketball player

Julius Winfield Erving II, commonly known by the nickname "Dr. J", is an American retired basketball player. Regarded as one of the greatest and most influential basketball players of all time, Erving helped legitimize the American Basketball Association (ABA) and was the best-known player in that league when it merged into the National Basketball Association (NBA) after the 1975–76 season.

Bill Russell American basketball player and coach

William Felton Russell is an American former professional basketball player who played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1956 to 1969. A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a 12-time All-Star, he was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won eleven NBA championships during his 13-year career. Russell and Henri Richard of the National Hockey League are tied for the record of the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league. Russell led the San Francisco Dons to two consecutive NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, and he captained the gold-medal winning U.S. national basketball team at the 1956 Summer Olympics.

Center (basketball) Position in basketball

The center (C), also known as the five, or the big man, is one of the five positions in a basketball game. The center is normally the tallest player on the team, and often has a great deal of strength and body mass as well. In the NBA, the center is usually 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m) or taller. They traditionally have played close to the basket in the low post.

Jason Richardson American basketball player

Jason Anthoney Richardson is an American former professional basketball player who played 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Richardson was taken by the Golden State Warriors as the fifth overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft after playing college basketball for Michigan State University. He won the NBA Dunk Contest in both 2002 and 2003, becoming the second player, after Michael Jordan, to win the competition back-to-back. Richardson has also played for the Charlotte Bobcats, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, and the Philadelphia 76ers.

David Thompson (basketball)

David O'Neil Thompson is an American former professional basketball player. He played with the Denver Nuggets of both the American Basketball Association (ABA) and National Basketball Association (NBA), as well as the Seattle SuperSonics of the NBA. He was previously a star in college for North Carolina State, leading the Wolfpack to its first NCAA championship in 1974. Thompson is one of the six players to score 70 or more points in an NBA game. Thompson was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996.

Pick and roll An offensive play in basketball

The pick and roll in basketball is an offensive play in which a player sets a screen (pick) for a teammate handling the ball and then moves toward the basket (rolls) to receive a pass. In the NBA, the play came into vogue in the 1990s and has developed into the league's most common offensive action. There are however many ways in which the defense can also counter the offensive screen.

Basketball moves are generally individual actions used by players in basketball to pass by defenders to gain access to the basket or to get a clean pass to a teammate to score a two pointer or three pointer.

The 1977 NBA World Championship Series was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1976–77 season, and the culmination of the season's playoffs. The Western Conference champion Portland Trail Blazers played against the Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia 76ers, with the 76ers holding home-court advantage. Their four regular season meetings had been split evenly, 2–2, with neither side winning away from home. The series was played under a best-of-seven format.

Glossary of basketball terms Wikipedia glossary

This glossary of basketball terms is a list of definitions of terms used in the game of basketball. Like any other major sport, basketball features its own extensive vocabulary of unique words and phrases used by players, coaches, sports journalists, commentators, and fans.

Raleigh Climon Owens was a professional American football wide receiver from 1957 through 1964. Owens graduated from Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, California, and attended the College of Idaho. He played amateur basketball with the Seattle-based Buchan Bakers the year after their national championship.

1983 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball Tournament

The 1983 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament involved 52 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men's NCAA Division I college basketball. It began on March 17, 1983, and ended with the championship game on April 4 at The Pit, then officially known as University Arena, on the campus of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. A total of 51 games were played.

Alley-oop (American football)

The alley-oop is an American football play in which the quarterback throws the ball high into the air, and another player jumps up and catches it. The play was developed in 1957 by San Francisco 49ers players Y. A. Tittle and R. C. Owens. The play was named after V. T. Hamlin's comic strip character Alley Oop; Owens himself was also known as "Alley Oop". It was highly successful when utilized due to Owens' 6 ft 3 in height and ability to out-leap defenders.

1966–67 UCLA Bruins mens basketball team American college basketball season

The 1966–67 UCLA Bruins men's basketball team won UCLA's third NCAA National Basketball Championship under head coach John Wooden with a win over Dayton.

1981–82 Georgetown Hoyas mens basketball team American college basketball season

The 1981–82 Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball team represented Georgetown University in the 1981–82 NCAA Division I basketball season. Led by tenth-year head coach John Thompson, it was the first season in which they played their home games at the Capital Centre in suburban Landover, Maryland, except for five games at McDonough Gymnasium on campus in Washington, D.C.

The 1982–83 NC State Wolfpack men's basketball team represented North Carolina State University. The Wolfpack were a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The team went 26–10 on the year, winning the ACC Tournament and the NCAA National Championship.

A give-and-go, or one-two, is a fundamental maneuver in many team sports which involves two players passing the ball or puck back and forth. The player who has the ball or puck passes to a teammate and then repositions in order to receive a return pass and possibly create a scoring opportunity.

Basketball is a ball game and team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules. Since being developed by James Naismith as a non-contact game that almost anyone can play, basketball has undergone many different rule variations, eventually evolving into the NBA-style game known today. Basketball is one of the most popular and widely viewed sports in the world.

The 1983 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship Game was the final game of the 1983 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. It determined the national champion for the 1982–83 NCAA Division I men's basketball season. The game was played on April 4, 1983, at The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico and paired top-ranked, #1 seed Midwest Regional Champions, the Houston Cougars, and sixteenth-ranked, #6 seed West Regional Champions, the NC State Wolfpack.

"Havlicek stole the ball" is a quote by radio broadcaster Johnny Most, as a jubilant reaction to a steal made by the Boston Celtics' John Havlicek against the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1965 NBA Eastern Conference championship game seven. Most's call of the play has been dubbed by the NBA as "the most famous radio call in basketball history."


  1. alley-oop, adv., int., adj., and n, Oxford English Dictionary
  2. 1 2 Johnson, James W. (2009). The Dandy Dons: Bill Russell, K. C. Jones, Phil Woolpert, and One of College Basketball's Greatest and Most Innovative Teams. Bison Books. p. 85. ISBN   9780803224445.
  3. Paul, Alan (2018). "An Interview With Bill Russell".
  4. Lacis, Reinis (October 24, 2018), The Handle Podcast – Don Kojis: 08/24/18
  5. Eastern Basketball Association Rosters
  6. Andrieson, David (October 13, 2007), "Sonics ushered Seattle into the big time 40 years ago Saturday", The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  7. Posnanski, Joe (April 6, 2008), "Get ready for alley-oop game between KU and Memphis", The Kansas City Star , archived from the original on February 19, 2009
  8. Davis, Seth (2009), When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball, Times Books, ISBN   978-0805088106
  9. Killen, John (January 23, 1982). "Lob it or leave it". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1B.
  10. "Vandals No. 6". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). wire services. March 2, 1982. p. 13.
  11. "UI wins but falls to No. 8". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). wire services. March 9, 1982. p. 17.
  12. Van Sickel, Charlie (March 15, 1982). "Vandals: Sweet 16 and..." Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). p. 15.
  13. Kirkpatrick, Curry (April 11, 1983). "State had the stuff". Sports Illustrated. p. 18.
  14. "Wolfpack miracle rules land". Wilmington Morning Star. (North Carolina). Associated Press. April 5, 1983. p. 1D.
  15. "Wolfpack stuffs Cougars for title". Milwaukee Sentinel. April 5, 1983. p. 1-part 2.