In a preseason game between the Clippers and Raptors this year, NBA history was made. With 6:22 to go in the 2nd quarter, Jamal Crawford tried to shake a defender out of his shoes, but ironically became the victim of his own finesse. Crawford’s left foot slipped out of his sneaker, forcing him to pick up his dribble and pass to teammate Blake Griffin. After much research, this appears to be the first recorded instance of a player throwing a teammate’s shoe at an opponent.
Shoe throws are fairly common in the NBA, but almost all involve a player throwing an opponent’s shoe away from to put them at an obvious disadvantage. Griffin’s decision to throw Crawford’s shoe at opponent Cory Joseph was both revolutionary and effective, as it led to Griffin driving the lane and earning two free throws.
Inspired by this innovative display of basketball genius, the team here at Chode League embarked on a deep dive of NBA shoe throwing. These plays have thus been ranked based on dirtiness, comedic effect, and whether or not they led to a competitive advantage. We limited this to NBA shoe throws, so we can only give honorable mention to the J.R. Smith shoe untying (how could we not), Bill Walton allegedly attempting a block with his shoe (not even close), the George W. Bush shoe dodge (legendary), and the Webber/Barkley reenactment of the Bush dodge (even better). Without further adieu, here are the top 10 NBA shoe throws of all time:
“REF, I SWEAR I WAS TRYING TO HELP”
The first rule of a dirty play is to not get caught. These players violated that rule.
10. Ronnie Price
Shoe thrown: Own
End Result:Technical foul
The Play: Ronnie Price performs a step-back move, but his right shoe does not. He turns the ball over to Andre Iguodala, grabs his shoe, chases Iggy, hurls the shoe at him, misses wildly, and is called for a technical foul.
This is the worst shoe throw in the history of the NBA. Not only does Ronnie Price lose his shoe in an undramatic fashion, turn the ball over, and fail to disrupt the play, but he also gets caught red-handed, earning a technical foul. Absolutely atrocious. It’s no surprise Price is currently a third-string point guard with a “non-existent fantasy value” according to Rotoworld.com.
9. Will Barton
Shoe Thrown: Trevor Ariza (Opponent)
End Result: Technical foul
The Play: Trevor Ariza chases a rebound, but falls over, losing a shoe in the process. The Nuggets grab the board and score, and Will Barton throws Ariza’s shoe out of bounds while heading back on defense. But Will is caught in the act and whistled for a technical foul, causing the two teams to get into a brief argument as well.
If you are unsure why Trevor Ariza gets so upset at Barton, you’ll see later in this list that this is the second time Arizia has had his shoe thrown by an opponent. It’s incredible that these two teams get into a scuffle over something so absurd, but imagine if Barton hadn’t been caught. If so, Ariza might have fallen victim to two unnoticed shoe throws, along with crippling depression leading to an early retirement.
“RIGHT IDEA, RIGHT IDEA”
These players didn’t get caught, but they also didn’t help their team. So now they’re just assholes.
8. Deandre Jordan
Shoe Thrown: Kenneth Faried (Opponent)
End Result: Clippers score
The Play: Kenneth Faried loses his shoe attempting a transition layup. After securing the rebound and dishing the outlet pass, DeAndre Jordan launches Faried’s shoe at a cameraman. The Clippers score a fastbreak bucket, forcing a Nuggets timeout.
A painfully uneventful shoe throw. DeAndre Jordan wasn’t caught, his team scored, and he forced a timeout, but he didn’t score any style points whatsoever. Faried didn’t get mad, the Clippers would have scored anyway, and DJ didn’t even laugh. Opportunity wasted.
Show Thrown: Own
End Result: Common Foul
The Play: Marc Gasol makes a floater, but loses his shoe while running back on defense. Teammate Ed Davis tosses Gasol his shoe, who promptly uses it to frantically swipe at Derrick Favors for a steal. Gasol is called for a foul and aggressively pleads with the ref to let him put his shoe back on before the Jazz can inbound the ball.
Gasol’s throw is iconic because he uses his shoe as a damn weapon. He swats angrily at Derrick Favors and is miraculously only called for a common foul. What did the ref call when he went to the scorers table? Hacking? Reach-in? Attacking an Innocent Man with a Shoe? We may never know.
“WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN…”
The plays were perfect, the outcomes were not. Here’s to the ones that could have been legendary.
6. Tyson Chandler
Shoe Thrown/Swatted: MO BUCKETS’
End Result: Mavericks foul
The Play: MO BUCKETS loses his shoe on a drive; when it gets in the way of Steph Curry, Steph tosses it aside. On their next offensive possession, Steph relocates the shoe and tosses it back to Mo. Tyson Chandler, who is only good at dunking alley oops and blocking things, does the latter and SWATS this shoe pass away while retreating on defense. Buckets and Curry protest while the Mavs are quickly called for a blocking foul.
The awareness by Chandler, the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year, is astounding. He recognized Speights lost his shoe, he knew where the shoe had been tossed, and had the presence of mind to disrupt the teammate shoe pass while getting back on defense. This was not simply a right place/right time play. Chandler went out of his way to block this shoe pass, and it is a damn shame that nothing more came of this than a few laughs. However, he probably got a DPOY vote for this play alone.
5. Dwyane Wade
Shoe thrown: Mike Bibby (Opponent)
End Result: Knicks alley oop
The Play: Mike Bibby grabs a rebound and loses his shoe in the process. While he is passing the ball, Dwyane Wade grabs Bibby’s shoe and tosses it into the corner, out of bounds. Bibby stares at Wade in disbelief, who holds his stare and jogs back smugly. But the Knicks promptly complete an alley oop to Tyson Chandler, who has never scored by any other means in his entire career.
Though this play did not result in a positive outcome for the Heat, it ranks high due to the circumstances. This took place DURING THE PLAYOFFS. Stakes are high, tension is palpable, and cameras are everywhere. The audacity of Wade to perform such a petty move in such a situation is only rivaled by the iconic Lance Stephenson Ear Blowing of 2013. (Ear blowing list is forthcoming.)
“I MEAN, IT’S JUST STRATEGY”
Successful dirty plays like these are what inspired Jason Kidd to “spill his soda.”
4. Jarret Jack
Shoe Thrown: Dorell Wright (Opponent)
End Result: Warriors 3-pointer, giggling
The Play: Dorell Wright steals a pass from Andrew Bogut and launches down the court for a 1-on-1 fastbreak against Klay Thompson. He stumbles and loses his shoe in the process, which Jarrett Jack LAUNCHES well into the stands. Wright passes to Evan Turner, who finishes a layup. The Warriors then inbound the ball, Jack nails a three, and the Sixers call a timeout to get Wright’s shoe back.
There is so much right with this play. First off, Jarrett Jack throws Wright’s shoe about 500 rows deep into the stands. Incredible. Second, Jack’s man, Evan Turner, gets an easy layup because Jack went out of his way to hurl this shoe into another time zone. Hilarious. Third, Jack follows up his shoe toss with a bomb from three. Clutch. Fourth, Jack giggles profusely as the Sixers call a timeout. Perfect. This is a flawless play. How could things get any better?
3. Blake Griffin
Shoe thrown: Jamal Crawford (Teammate)
End Result: Clippers free throws
The Play: Described in the beginning of the article
Pure innovation by Griffin, pure devastation by Corey “Remember That Time Drake Rapped About Me?” Joseph. The play caused Joseph to execute one of the strangest flops ever; he had to pretend that a shoe lightly tossed towards him foul him egregiously. Blake Griffin not only looks smart in this play, but also makes Corey Joseph look foolish. A true work of art.
2. Ron Artest
Shoe Thrown: Trevor Ariza (Opponent, Repeat Victim)
End Result: Opponent failed drive, Lakers 3
The Play: Once again, Trevor Ariza loses his shoe while fighting for a rebound, so the artist formerly known as Ron Artest flings it behind the stanchion. Luis Scola dribbles down the court, flops, and misses a layup. The Lakers come back down and pass to Artest, who promptly drains a three.
This is the first recorded instance of a player throwing an opponent’s shoe, and it’s no surprise that the player to open Pandora’s Shoebox is the infamous Metta World Peace. Not only does this play rank high due to the innovation factor, but it also led to a three by Artest himself. MWP invented a new strategy, was not caught, the other team didn’t score, and he drained one from long range following the throw. Simply put, a perfect play.
“THE GREATEST PLAY IN THE HISTORY OF BASKETBALL”
1. Mike Miller makes three wearing one shoe:
Shoe Thrown: Own
End Result: NBA Championship
The Play: With the Heat trailing 3-2 in the series and down by seven with 10:50 to go in the fourth, Mike Miller loses his shoe on the defensive end. He tosses the shoe aside (incredibly casually at 0:31 in the video), runs down court, and drills a three to bring the game within four WEARING ONLY ONE SHOE.
When most describe the 3-pointer in the 4th quarter of Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, they are referring to Ray Allen’s clutch shot to send the game to overtime. Despite the greatness of this play, it was not the best three pointer from that game. Mike “Mike Miller” Miller’s shot, which capped off a 10-2 Heat run, was so momentous that the Spurs had to call a timeout even though ONE OPPONENT WAS NOT WEARING BOTH SHOES. I am fully convinced that the Heat refused to lose the game after Miller performed this miracle, which motivated Allen to make that iconic shot. This is undoubtedly the greatest play in the history of basketball.
If the list above shows anything, it is that the NBA shoe throw game continues to develop. Much like small ball, creativity with shoe throws are constantly changing the NBA landscape. The NBA will be a better league if these innovations progress. Let’s all pray Dion Waiters comes upon a loose shoe this year.
Mike Schubert (@Schubes17) is an editor for Chode Leauge as well as the “Suit” half of Suit&Nut.