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NBA / Sep 25, 2012 / 12:00 pm

The Top 10 Ballhandlers Since 2000

Rafer Alston, Dime #34

In the new issue of Dime Magazine, we took a look at the best – and worst – the game has offered since the turn of the century. From the players to jerseys to sneakers to teams to even trends, you can relive the past 12 years by scooping up the new issue currently on newsstands nationwide. In those pages, you’ll find the following feature…

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Dunking was always glorified, and while Pistol Pete captivated audiences during the 1970s with his infamous ball tricks, if given the choice, everyone would’ve always picked having nasty hops over an ill handle. But nowadays? We’re not so sure. Everyone wants to break some ankles. Here are the 10 NBA guys who’ve done it the best over the past dozen years.

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10. RAFER ALSTON
The story goes something like this: during the summer of 1999 at Haverford College in Philadelphia, And1 brought some of their NBA endorsers – guys like Darrell Armstrong, Larry Hughes, Raef LaFrentz and Rex Chapman – to a gym to film commercials. In the green room that day, the NBA guys went crazy playing and replaying a tape of grainy footage, incoherent audio and one skinny kid who was abusing people on the court. When all the players finally met that kid – Rafer Alston – they treated him like royalty. Up to that point, the “Skip Tape” was used as entertainment in the company’s offices. It would later spark a revolution.

Without Skip 2 My Lou, who knows if we’re even making this list? Ballhandling is entertaining, but Alston helped take it to another realm. Yes, Steve Francis was just as nice with the rock, and broke people off almost every night in the league. Yes, Baron Davis was one of the sickest combinations of speed, power and handle we’ve ever seen. Yes, Jason Williams and Allen Iverson basically played streetball in the NBA. But Skip was different. Skip was the first to successfully merge streetball and the NBA, the first player to ever really be a professional at both.

In the NBA, Alston often busted out his patented spin move, and unveiled so many ball fakes, we’re surprised he didn’t break necks. He played 11 years in the NBA, and even started on the 2009 Eastern Conference champion Magic. Through it all, he was a symbol.

Whether you believe the influence of street culture on the game was a good or a bad thing, you can’t deny its impact. Skip was one of the originators of all that.

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