Why has no one recreated Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook?

Photo: Milwaukee Bucks/ Twitter

With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook being the most unstoppable move in NBA history, you’d think some players would try to master it, right? Well, that has not been the case and the exact opposite has happened. We’re seeing centres not even post up anymore and instead play out on the perimeter. The league has changed a lot since Kareem played, and that’s part of the reason why.

When people play basketball now, no one is interested in playing with their back to the basket and posting up. Everyone wants to be shooting threes. After all, it does get you more points. In fact, when Kareem was asked why he thinks no players today use the skyhook as he did, this is the answer he gave. But personally, I think there are 2 more important reasons.

When Kareem played for UCLA in college, he dominated just like he did in the NBA. He averaged 26 points a game over his 3 seasons with 15.5 rebounds per game too. But he didn’t get most of his points with his skyhook, he did it by dunking. He would post his defender up and then dunk all over them, much like Shaq would do. When the NBA saw this, they thought they couldn’t be having this in their league and they proceeded to ban dunking. They deemed it an unfair advantage for taller players and decided the best way to even up the playing field, was to ban dunking. So when Kareem entered the league, he needed to find a different way to score.

And essentially, Kareem’s hook shot is the closest you can get to dunking, without actually dunking. He would release the ball so high up that it was unblockable and he practiced it relentlessly so he was incredibly consistent. Kareem adapted his game perfectly so that no matter what the NBA did, he would still dominate and be the best.

But there is still another reason. When Kareem played in the 70s and 80s, you couldn’t double team players as you can today. If you didn’t stay close to your man, you would be called for a technical foul, the opposing team would shoot a free throw and they would be given the ball back. But in today’s NBA, you often see players get double-teamed when they post up and it makes it much, much harder for them to score. So players are posting up less and less as it’s just easier to score a different way. If the rules and circumstances were the same as the 70s and 80s then we’d see every NBA centre with his back to the basket to shoot the hook shot. But that just isn’t the case.