New York Knicks and the Art of Three-Point Celebrations


Jan 13, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) reacts after hitting a three-point shot against the Phoenix Suns during the first quarter of a game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The three-pointer: one of the most dramatic, exciting shots to be taken on a basketball court. The combination of distance and extra points has made it a fan-favorite shot, and as basketball experts continue to remold the thinking of the game, it’s become an increasingly common and important shot in modern offenses.

Thus, when you consider its excitement and importance, the celebration of the three-pointer has become an art within itself. It could be your run-of-the-mill spot-up three in the second quarter that gets celebrated, or it could be a dramatic, late-fourth-quarter three that gets a celebration. Jeff Van Gundy recently vented about the excessiveness of the three-point celebration on Zach Lowe’s podcast. These days, if you aren’t celebrating your three-pointer in some fashion, you’re boring and out-dated. Take a seat on the bench, grandpa.

Recently, however, according to the New York Knicks very own Iman Shumpert, there has been some three-point celebration stealing. From Shumpert last night:

That’s right — there is apparently some territoriality regarding three-point celebrations. The celebration Shumpert refers to is in reference to “Hold My Phone” by Drake, and to my knowledge, Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. were the first to do it this season.

I have to admit, I don’t know who stole Shumpert’s celebration, but it was enough to draw the ire of dear Shump. My first thought was to Russell Westbrook; however, Westbrook has his own gun-slinging three-point celebration:

Westbrook’s celebration is solid, in my opinion. It’s got an old-Western, gun-slinging vibe to it — put the guns back in the holsters. It probably offends some people, but for the most part, it’s stylish and relevant to the action. So, no, it wasn’t Westbrook who stole Shumpert’s celebration.

This led me to thinking, though — How often does three-point celebration plagiarism happen? Do we need to start licensing these celebrations, trademarking them?!

The most common three-point celebration is the Three Monocle. Occasionally, the monocles become goggles if the player puts both hands up to his eyes. The Knicks’ own Tim Hardaway Jr. does the Monocle himself.

To be totally honest, the first person I saw doing the Three Monocle is Mo Williams, circa 2010 with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Those Cavs teams — popular and led by LeBron James — seemed to have ignited the Three Monocole trend, and since, just about every player does it. Also common is taking the monocle away from the eye and simply holding it up for the world to see.

Harden, who you can see in the last linked picture, also has his own three-point celebration: The Drag. This appears to be a common Houston Rockets thing.

So, where do the the Knicks rank in the art of the three-point celebration? Pretty darn high, and given Iman Shumpert’s recent case of celebration theft, I’d say it’s about time we take these celebrations to the courts! We begin with the lockout season of 2011-12, when the Knicks were treated to two delightful three-point celebrations. First up:

Baron DavisThe Blunt – This first appeared in Davis’s Knicks debut, when he hit his first three-point attempt. Someone on the internet captured this brilliant moment with a well-timed screenshot.

Steve Novak – The Championship Belt – The official name of this celebration is highly debated. It, of course, originated from Aaron Rodgers’s touchdown celebration, and then later coined “Discount Double Check” by those stupid commercials. I prefer Championship Belt and I’m in charge here!

Moving on into last season, Rasheed Wallace introduced us to Three to the Dome. Wallace explained it as eloquently as only Rasheed Wallace could: “It’s three points. Take that to the head.”

Since Wallace’s inception of the Three to the Dome, Carmelo Anthony has taken it to a new level, making it his signature move.

Three to the Dome has spread through the Knicks ranks, and any given game, it’s possible to see another member doing it. I have to admit, I haven’t seen another player do it myself, but absence of evidence doesn’t mean evidence of absence.

Lastly, we must include J.R. Smith’s three-point celebration, which, is too incredible to be given a name, though I supposed if I had to, I’d call it the Pete Townshend. J.R. doesn’t bust it out after every three-pointer like ‘Melo, but after a buzzer-beater, Smith will go into full The Who mode.

Now, with this rundown and brief history of the three-point celebration, we must be mindful of intellectual thievery in these NBA Playoffs. Celebrating a three-pointer is perfectly acceptable, and moves like the Three Monocle or Three Goggles are practically public domain. Moves like Harden’s The Drag or even Westbrook’s Holsters can be replicated, but perhaps with an original flair or just with permission.

But the Knicks? Guys, these are original celebrations, and they oughta be trademarked. If you see anyone stealing these moves, please report them to the authorities.