Psy‘s “Gangnam Style,” like the “Cat Daddy” and “Dougie” before it, is the latest dance to go viral. At the time of this writing, the video has more than 144 million views on YouTube, and there are thousands more videos of others impersonating the dance on the web.
The question now becomes: who will be the first NBA player to bust out the “invisible horse” in-game? (Challenge issued, NBA players.)
The tradition of dancing in the NBA is surprisingly deep. Of course, cheerleaders and “dance packs” are a staple of halftime entertainment at basketball games. But players have been known to spontaneously break into step, as well. Antoine Walker popularized the “Shimmy” in the ’90s, flapping his shoulders back-and-forth after three-point shots. Mark Madsen also showed the world his moves (or lack thereof) at the Los Angeles Lakers’ championship parades in 2001 and 2002.
Probably the most exceptional dancer in NBA history, though, is Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq rarely passes on an opportunity to boogie down, and admittedly, is pretty talented when doing so. (In his first autobiography, Shaq Talks Back, he briefly discusses breakdancing as a youth.) While O’Neal produced a number of dance-related highlights, the highlights were his dance-off with pop star Justin Bieber, and the legacy of choreographed dance routines we now see annually at the NBA All-Star Game.
When Shaq retired from basketball in June of 2011, he also vacated the title of “Best Dancer in the NBA.” In this sense, then, last season was an informal audition for the league’s dance crown.
And so, after careful deliberation on the part of this untrained and rhythm-less writer, the results are in.
Here are the top five dancers in the NBA.
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5. KEYON DOOLING/MARQUIS DANIELS, Boston Celtics
If the brief history of viral dance crazes has taught us anything, it’s that the simplest moves are often the most contagious. In the case of Keyon Dooling and Marquis Daniels (who is currently not on a NBA roster), they invented “Flex Dance.” Flexing is a move that sort of resembles a stationary chin-up, and according to Dooling, was a way for the Boston Celtics bench to energize the players on the floor. Although Boston ultimately fell to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, Dooling and Daniels had C’s fans flexing throughout the spring.