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Who has the BEST all-time NBA highlight reels?

(Photo via Wikipedia Commons)

There are always the silly "GOAT" debates between MJ and LBJ. Then from those conversations come exhausting and over-used arguments about "Who had more help" and the "Level of competition" and "Mike played plumbers" or "LeBron got locked down by J.J Barea," and for the love of all things good and pure, can we stop?

It's tired. It's overplayed. So let's talk about something far more fun, both in the intake and pure debatability of the topic. But that begs the question, who has the best highlight reels in NBA history?

No skill. No debates about a player's "resume" or (I'm going to throw up just typing this out) "legacy."

Just the question of who has the coolest, or the most fun-to-watch highlight tapes?

This list is going to include some obvious ones, maybe some that are underrated, but the important thing to keep in mind as you're reading: this is supposed to be fun.

Because if I'm wrong, or if someone replies with a disagreement, guess what I get to go do? Look up some awesome highlight tape and laugh at the ridiculous nature of what a person can do on a basketball court. It simply doesn't get any better than that.

So without further ado, here are the coolest NBA mixtapes in the history of the game, in no particular order, but starting with one of my all-time favorite dunkers, and the player whose highlights inspired this post in the first place...

Shawn Kemp

I love this reel. Boyz 2 Men is a classic, the fact that Shawn Kemp's nickname was "Reign Man" and the song is (if you couldn't tell) "Can You Stand The Rain." Pure perfection, and an absolute joy to watch this video on repeat in case you need something to lift your spirits.

For a lot of the rest of these, you can pretty much look up any highlight clip and it'll do the job, but for Kemp, this specific clip is my favorite, and you can argue with a wall. But since I ran across another elite Shawn Kemp highlight reel, here it is, this time with the background music courtesy of Bell Biv DeVoe.

Jason Williams

Another easy choice, White Chocolate has been the subject of many a post in this area, as Williams' ball handling, passing, and pure creativity on the court made for some eye-popping plays that are easy to sit and gawk at, no matter the time or place.

Sure, he was making some AND1 Mixtape-type plays, but he was making them in NBA games, and on the Sacramento Kings. The stuff of legend.

Allen Iverson

In case you haven't noticed, this list is skewing a bit more towards the late 90s to early 2000s because, let's face it, that was the coolest era of basketball. And AI was the epitome (some would say one of the galvanizing forces) of that trend.

There's the style, the "We talkin' bout practice?" quote, the famous step-over, but AI's highlights are not only super fun, but they're diverse. Posters? Yup. Ankle breakers? Plenty of those. Putback dunks by a 6'0 guy? You bet.

And those early 2000s 76ers uniforms were clean as hell, but without AI wearing them, they're probably a bit tacky. With that 3 on them though? Timeless.

Julius Erving

I mean, c'mon, it's Dr. J. He wasn't the first trailblazer to make playing above the rim an art form (we'll get to him), but he's the epitome of class while still making people look foolish on the court.

He had amazing performances, the rings, and the MVPs, but everyone talks about his dunking ability and his quiet but well-pronounced ability to play the game with masterful flair.

David Thompson

The Skywalker. None of the previously mentioned players would be here without the work of Mr. Thompson, a man truly ahead of his time and the hero of one of those players in the "GOAT" debate.

His career, much like a comet, was here and gone in a flash. But while he was playing, he racked up some rim-rocking slams that were hard to believe in the 70s.

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