A few days ago, Rahat Huq, creator of the True Hoop Network’s Houston Rockets blog, Red94, approached me about my willingness to participate in a one on one discussion regarding the crossover dribble. I, of course, agreed. What follows is the first part of what I fear may be a never ending, life consuming conversation.
Rahat: The crossover dribble move has long been my favorite “thing” in sports. From dunks, to touchdowns, to offspeed sliders, there is a lot to be fascinated by in the world of athletic entertainment. But to me, nothing quite holds the intrigue of the crossover dribble. There is the obvious aesthetic appeal, yes, but the move represents so much more than that at a social level; it might be the greatest innovation in the game’s history.
When I found your blog I was excited. So I must ask, what inspired its creation? Read more…
Ah yes, the many a tribulation one’s massive ego can cause. The great Allen Iverson—a player who, for better or worse, defined an entire generation with his fearless nature and never before seen handles—should once and for all set his personal beliefs to the side, adapt and package his game in the 15 minute a night variety, and make one last comeback. Expectations can’t be any lower than where they currently sit, and I for one have yet to give up on the man. (And by “yet to give up” I mean “am selfish and want to watch him play again, even if it’s a hopeless situation.)
Watching him in the second Philadelphia go around managed to be familiar in an incredibly unfamiliar way. The name on the 76ers jersey was the same, but that was no Allen Iverson; 47 percent of his shots were assisted—an incredibly high number for one of the sport’s most historically inventive self-creators. But maybe that’s the only sign we need to tell us that guys who played well with the ball usually don’t age well. It’s Kurt Thomas, Tony Battie, and Jeff Foster who look like they’ll be around another 24 seasons. Big oafs who grab rebounds from their tippy toes, set screens that only occur off the ball, and clog up the paint,
It’s all the more reason why watching the near cremated ashes of Mike Bibby “play” for a title while Iverson sat alone somewhere made my blood boil, and I know at least five people who enjoyed watching Iverson play more than I did. Can he put his mind to amending his style, coming off the bench for a team like, let’s say, Charlotte, and finishing one last season in a true Hall of Fame worthy style? His legacy won’t be effected either way, but this selfish fan wants to see some more.
Today, the good people over at the New York Times blessed us with this phenomenal mini-documentary on the crossover dribble. If you haven’t seen or heard about it, please watch right now. Don’t even read the rest of what’s written in this post. Scroll down and watch. Right. Now. (Then scroll back and read.)
The only grievance I have is its contracted length (only six minutes and 30 seconds), but the informative throwback spots with guys like Pearl Washington and Dean Berry are simply priceless, and their words are well worth every taped moment. The video stimulates one of my all-time favorite basketball related arguments: Who has the most effective crossover in NBA history? Iverson owns the most iconic, and Hardaway’s basketball legacy might be most entwined with the move, but the way modern day guys like Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams break out their shimmy at the drop of a dime to not only score, but embarrass their opponents, it’s so tough to say who fits snuggest on the Crossover’s throne.
But, honestly, who cares who’s the most effective with it. The move represents so much more than evading the defender. It’s stylish. It’s elegant. It’s a big jumble of speed, power, deception, and confidence rolled into a never ending split second. And this video, combined with Shaky Ankles in its much smaller venue, has begun to recognize just how special such a simple dribbling maneuver can be.
Wait, I know that earlier I said I only had one complaint in regards to the video you’re either about to see or just saw. That was a lie. I wish I made it.
It’s tough to find any real crossovers in the All-Star game for a few reasons. One, nobody plays defense. Two, nobody wants to embarrass someone to the point of anger at an exhibition game where everyone’s trying to let loose and have fun. And three, nobody plays defense. Here’s a good old fashioned Iverson flashback from just two years ago (and now he’s kind of in Turkey, sort of hurt and not playing basketball) with a beautiful spin and required Yao Ming fake out. Let’s hope, with all the unbelievable guard play in tonight’s game, that somebody’s ankles get a little wobbly.
Two things to take away:
1) After the vicious fall Stuckey delivers to Iverson, this move seems to be a solid combination of ankle breaker and hip bruiser.
2) The Detroit Pistons’ play-by-play man should be fired.
If you’re a basketball fan, when you watch this clip a mix of different emotions should wash over you. The first is shock, which should instinctively bring a closed fist up to cover your newly wide open mouth. After you’ve gotten over what you’ve witnessed, the next emotion might be pity. The victim in this video, Antonio Daniels, is out of the NBA after bouncing around the league through his mildly disappointing career. No man should wish this level of embarrassment on another (He falls twice! What was he thinking!) And the final reaction, after you’ve splashed a cup of water in your face and let your brain descramble itself, is sadness. Instead of fading away as a well deserved first ballot Hall of Fame marvel, Allen Iverson is putting on his Brett Favre mask in Turkey. Those who watched him play remember a fearless competitor who will go down as the greatest pound for pound scorer in league history. Let this clip be a tribute, and please enjoy it.