What Is an Alley Oop in Basketball?

Blake Griffen completing an alley oop.
Getty Images

If you are reading this page, it is likely because you are seeking the definition of, or more information about, the term Alley Oop in the sport of basketball. You have come to the right place! Keep reading to learn everything you will ever need to know about an Alley Oop.


Alley Oop is a name for a basketball play in which one player throws a pass to a teammate near the basket, which the teammate catches in mid-air and immediately dunks. For a particularly impressive example, check out this video of Allen Iverson -- all 6'1" of him -- converting an alley-oop against St. John's.

Always a crowd favorite, alley oops have become a staple of slam dunk competitions. Here, Amare Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns converts an alley-oop off a soccer-style header from Steve Nash.

The term "alley oop" is derived from allez-hop, the traditional cry of a French circus acrobat before his leap.

Alternate Spellings:

allez-oop, alley-oop


Some call Lorenzo Charles' game-winning shot at the end of the '83 championship game an alley-oop... but I say it was an air-ball by Dereck Whittenberg, and Charles just got lucky.

However, that is just an example of one famous alley-oop. If you want to see a ton of great alley-oops, your best source will probably be YouTube. YouTube is a sports fan's dream when it comes to highlights. This video entitled, "Best Alley-Oop Dunks of All Time," showcases a compilation of alley-oops. The video is almost 9 minutes long, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the alley-oop play and all basketball fans in general.

Best Alley Oop Duos of All Time

The alley-oop play in basketball takes two people to be successful, and the sport has seen some great duos throughout its storied history.

Most recently Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have seemed to master the basketball play, and they deserve mention with the greatest alley-oop duos of all time. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James paired to make one of the most dominating duos in basketball and they were also able to pull off some amazing alley-oops while they were together.

Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal also mastered the ally oop while they played together with the Orlando Magic and deserved to be mentioned with the greatest duos of all time.

Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton rank No. 1 on most people's list of greatest alley-oop duos of all time, and it's certainly hard to argue with them. The two displayed great chemistry on the basketball court with the Seattle SuperSonics. It's hard to imagine that there will ever be a duo better than Kemp and Payton at the alley oop.

If you read this entire article and watched the YouTube clip of several awesome alley-oops, hopefully, you have had your fix of this famous basketball player. We also hope you now know more about an alley-oop than you ever thought imaginable.

This article was updated by Brian Ethridge on 9/7/15.