What are handles in basketball?

The ability to handle a basketball

In basketball, "handles" refers to a player's ability to control a basketball, including dribbling and passing. It is a common term basketball players, commentators, and fans use to judge players' skills with the ball.

For example, a fan may post a video on social media of a player dribbling through and around defenders with the caption, "Check out Williams' mad handles!!" Or if Steph Curry pulls off no-look and behind-the-back passes, a commentator may remark, "Curry showing off his handles tonight with some beautiful dimes."

As with every sport, fans love to debate the best players, and many NBA fans argue who has the best handles. Some players with all-time handles include Allen Iverson, Kyrie Irving, Isiah Thomas, Steve Nash, Steph Curry, and Pete Maravich.

Origin of handles

It is unclear who coined the slang term "handles," but it comes from "ball handling" and "ball handler." The term gained popularity in the late 1990s and 2000s as AND1 Mixtape videos highlighted players with jaw-dropping handles that played basketball on the "streets."


Say what you want about him but Irving's handles are unreal
Agreed. His court vision is off the charts
Jalen Rose sharing his picks for the top handles in NBA history
Jalen Rose sharing his picks for the top handles in NBA history

Related Slang


Updated June 28, 2023

Handles definition by Slang.net

This page explains what the slang term "Handles" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the Slang.net team.

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