Whenever Jordan turns to shoot, he releases the ball so quickly that it's hard for an opponent to react fast enough to get a hand in his face. Even if the defender does, Jordan has the uncanny ability to hang in the air—when he leans back on the fadeaway, it sometimes looks as if he's almost reclining—until the defender gives in to gravity. "He gets so much lift on it," says Miami assistant Bob McAdoo, "he can get it over any guard and even any 3 man [small forward] in the league."
The beauty of Olajuwon's move is its countless variations. Like snowflakes, no two Dream Shakes are exactly alike. "He steps in, gives you three or four fakes, goes up and under or goes to the fadeaway," says Heard. "You don't know what shot he's going to take because he has them all combined."
It seems odd that the most graceful, fluid move in the league would belong to a center. When Olajuwon was learning the game, he studied not just centers but also forwards and guards, and it's obvious he has incorporated into his game moves that typically belong to smaller players. He goes through a series of spins, fake spins, pump fakes and up-and-under moves until the defender finally bites. Then Olajuwon can finish off the move with a fadeaway jumper, a short jump hook or a dunk.
In that memorable sequence against Robinson in the 1995 playoffs, he even held the ball out with his right hand, as if to say, 'Is this what you're looking for?' before pulling it back, spinning the other way and scoring.
Olajuwon's move is really a progression. If the defender doesn't bite on the second fake, he'll go for the third. Or the fifth. "There's nothing that compares to what Dream does," says Utah Jazz center Greg Foster. "I think the quick guys are the ones who have the most trouble guarding Olajuwon. They go for everything. I think you have to play him like a slow player."
Which brings us to the most overlooked ingredient necessary for a great move—the defender. The sight of the befuddled defensive man adds immeasurably to the visual effect of the move. So, to those poor defenders who are fooled into looking left while their man goes right or who take flight upon being pump-faked while their man calmly ducks under them for a layup, your contribution isn't unappreciated. And may your ankles always be well taped.