circus shot (sur'-kuhs shaht) noun. A low-percentage shot that is flipped, heaved, scooped, or otherwise flung toward the hoop while the shooter is off-balance, airborne, falling down, and/or facing away from the basket. This shot is so named because it looks like the kind of tricky gimmick you'd see at a circus rather than an NBA game. Assuming they actually play basketball at the circus, that is.

Usage example: Dwyane Wade is the current king of circus shots, following in the footsteps of former circus shooting legends like Michael Jordan, Dominque Wilkins, and whoever else you want to name.

Word Trivia: I'm pretty sure that basketball players have been attempting circus shots since about five minutes after Dr. James Naismith first nailed a peach basket to the back of a dinosaur and told his gym students to start throwing rocks at it. However, the circus shot is more prevalent today than ever. This is because, although most circus shots are wildly off the mark, actually hitting one is a guaranteed way to be immortalized on SportsCenter highlights and by a flurry of video clips on YouTube. For instance:

The most famous circus shot ever: Michael Jordan did more to popularize the circus shot than any other player in NBA history. Most people remember the mid-90s version of Michael Jordan, when he drove to the cup selectively and relied mostly on his fallaway jumper. But the mid-80s to early-90s Jordan was in a constant state of leaping, hooking, scooping, dipping, and reversing. In fact, Jordan is the author of the most famous circus shot of all time. It happened in Game 2 of the 1991 Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers and, ironically, it was also the most needless circus shot of all time. Jordan took the ball up with his right hand as if to dunk or lay it in, then inexplicably switched it to his left hand for a more media-friendly attempt. There was absolutely no need whatsoever to do this, however, since he wasn't fouled on the shot and, indeed, there wasn't a defender in sight. This highlight is shown repeatedly throughout the NBA season and endlessly during the playoffs, even though most experts and coaches would agree that taking an easy shot and making it more difficult so you can look cool while doing it is a bad idea, especially in the Finals.

C'mon, Mike. Was that really necessary?

The circus shot king: In many cases, a circus shot is attempted after an offensive player feels contact from his defender on a drive to the basket. This is done, obviously, in the hope of drawing a foul. More often than not, the circus shot is accompanied by a deep grunt or a cry of mock pain (otherwise known as a verbal flop) as a means of selling the foul. Nobody does this better than Dwyane Wade, who is the reigning king of circus shots. Seriously, go to YouTube and do a search for "circus shot." About 97 percent of the results are clips of Wade hitting one ridiculous flinger after another. You have to hand it to Wade, though; in an era where other 2-guards like Ray Allen and Gilbert Arenas are jacking up seven or eight threes a game, last year he shot a "career-high" 0.4 per game. He'd rather take it to the hoop, which is probably why he shot a league-leading 10.5 freethrow attempts a game last season. If they kept stats on circus shot attempts, he probably would have lead the league in that category too.


Blogger Rainman1003 said...
Didn't MJ say that he changed hands on the drive because he was expecting a player from the Lakers to block hsi shot?

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Two things:

First, Iguodala's circus shot clearly went over the backboard, which is not allowed. I am only passionate about this because Larry Bird's famous "over the backboard" circus shot was not counted, and anytime Larry gets the short end of the deal, I must speak out.

Second, here's a link to a great "gravity defying" take on Wade's best circus shot:

Blogger ChrisH said...
MJ claimed he saw "long-armed sam perkins" getting ready to go for the block. whatever, it was still unnecessary. Plus they replay that stupid shot so much, I've been sick of it for 15 years. MJ had many that were better.

Glad you gave props to wade for taking it to the hole. the 3pter has gotten way too easy, making wade's aggressiveness all too rare league wide.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
And no mention of Dr. J's amazing circus shot in the 1980 NBA Finals? That's my favorite one. The Jordan one is third. Second goes to the one Jordan did against the Nets. Remember that one, with Chris Dudley flying in the air?

Blogger Kansacity said...
I have to say the one Jordan did against the Nets is his best. Still cant see how he got that one to go. I dont understand how you think the shot is still "unnecessary" when you are trying to score and you "think" someone may try to go up and block it. Its "necessary" to change or alter the shot. Had he KNOWN that Sam wasnt gonna jump, he, more than likely, would have dunked it! Only thing he was doing was trying to score and not get it blocked.....far away from being unnecessary! Its not HIS fault that the NBA keeps playing the clip over and over again.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
While I too think that circus shot by Jordan in the Finals was overrated and definitely overplayed, there was a reason that he did it, and probably not cos Sam Perkins was under the basket. It was because it was his 13th FG IN A ROW. A Finals record.

So I guess you could say it was more because of his sense of the dramatic, wanting to cap off his streak with something spectacular...yeah pretty much a case of "show the other team up/superdickery"