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A Killer Crossover

A few days ago, on a blog about Allen Iverson’s latest visit to Philadelphia (AI bobblehead night), I posted a comment about Iverson having the best crossover move in the history of the NBA. Not surprisingly, someone brought up Tim Hardaway’s two-step crossover.

This debate has gone on for some time now.
So whose Killer Crossover is indeed the ultimate “AnkleBreaker”?
Which move guarantees a path to the hoop or some space between shooter and defender?
Can this even be measured and ascertained?
Is there any other player who should contend for the mythical title?

While there are numerous guards in the history of the game who have developed their own deadly version of the mis-directing move, I think most fans will agree that the competition comes down to the two legendary NBA guards: Tim Hardaway and Allen Iverson. In their primes, both regularly resorted to their signature move, and by doing so, both were consistent in getting to the hoop, pulling up for a J or dishing an assist. Hardaway’s killer crossover allowed him to reach 5000 points second-fastest (next only to the Big O, Oscar Robertson) while Iverson’s paved the way to four league scoring titles.

Hardaway’s patented “step-to-step” (also called “Texas Two-Step” or “two-step”) crossover has allowed him to escape a great many defenders. And it is hard to think of anyone who relied on a similar move night-in and night-out. What I find most amazing about his in-between the legs dribble move is that it looks easy enough to execute by most, even duplicate, but to have used it so effectively and consistently against NBA-level guards, may be something that only he could do. Overcoming degrees of difficulty, Hardaway could also perform the move while running top-speed on the break en route to the basket.

Iverson’s original shoulder-high left-to-right crossover move was so effective, so potent, that it was deemed illegal by the NBA soon after he turned Pro. Officials ruled that the technique, greatly enhanced by Iverson’s unrivalled quickness and agility, gave the 6-foot guard too much of an advantage over his defenders. This development did not stop AI from utilizing a subtler version of his crossover that complied with NBA requirements but nevertheless equally effective. This toned-down cross is actually what we have gotten used to seeing from Iverson during his heyday. And as the prolific albeit controversial guard has proven countless times, his anklebreaker guaranteed escape and opportunity.

Originating from the playground, AI’s streetball manuever is arguably the fancier, more crowd-pleasing move. It was consistent with the term “anklebreaker” as it had defenders shifting heavily towards one direction and occasionally falling to the floor. Even top defensive players in the league had a hard time keeping up and were at times humiliated in their efforts to do so.

Tim Hardaway’s version also had most guards going the wrong way (usually Hardaway’s left) but very rarely have we seen him drop players with it. NBA players, however, have said that it is the more difficult crossover move to replicate, specially in an NBA game where the highest level of basketball defense is played.

After having watched numerous live Iverson and Hardaway games in the past, and countless more NBA videos (thank you, youtube), it is my submission that, more than the players’ technique, it is their athleticism – their speed, quickness and timing – that allows these shifty guards to squeeze past their man; that these same stars would still overcome their defenders even if they resorted to a simpler version of the crossover. Relying on their patented moves increased their rate of success (and subsequently, the game’s level of excitement).

Now the reason why I consider Iverson’s crossover to be better than Hardaway’s and the best in the history of the game? It was the more in-your-face-I-will-blow-by-you-and-you-will-look-stupid type of one-on-one move. It was a cool, entertaining and highly effective envy-in-citing weapon that guaranteed to break some poor, hapless guy’s ankles. While Hardaway could use his rendition on the break, Iverson’s was exclusively a one-on-one streetballer’s move, and used successfully on the grandest stage of them all against players like His Airness, Michael Jordan, only added to its pure awesomeness.

Geico Mutombo

Nice to see retired NBA player Dikembe Mutombo back to doing what he does best: blocking, uhm, shots (and showing his patented finger-wag).

A 4-time Defensive Player of the Year, “Mt. Mutombo” was a force to reckon with in the paint. He could block any player’s shot, change the direction of your shot, or prevent you from taking any shot at all.

One of the great centers to come out of Georgetown U (along with Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning), Mutombo speaks seven (yes, seven) languages and focuses his bball retirement on humanitarian work.

Chris Paul does Nightcrawler. Bamf!

One of the NBA’s latest “BIG” commercials stars CP3, Magic Johnson and Steve Nash. Titled “The Disappearing Act”, this video was directed by Spike Lee.

Love the idea. Cool effects. Even cooler to see the three HOF Los Angeles PGs in one room. But…shouldn’t have Mike Conley (Paul’s defender) stopped “defending” after his man vanished in smoke? (twice)

Bamf!

Sweet-shooting Carmelo

Saw the Knicks-Raptors game last night at the ACC. Better yet, saw Carmelo Anthony rack up 37 points on outside shooting and guarded turnaround fadeaways. The guy just has such smooth mechanism on his jumper. At times it looks as if he is releasing the ball still on his way up rather than at the height of his jump. This makes it more difficult for defenders’ to challenge his shot (timing).

Here is a nice drill between Melo and Magic from a couple of years ago. Love the sound of the ball scraping the rim.

Is Melo a Stark or a Lannister?

As I love the game of Basketball AND am a huge fan of the Game of Thrones TV series (I have all five published books and have the first two seasons in DVD pre-ordered from Amazon), I found it cool to see Carmelo Anthony promoting the upcoming GOT Season 3 (March 31st on HBO). I won’t lie, his acting could have been better – he’s no Jesus Shuttlesworth – but it was still a delight seeing him on The Throne.

Coincidentally, I and some friends will be watching Carmelo and his Knicks tomorrow night playing “our” Raptors. Hopes of seeing the prolific small forward here in TO almost went up in smoke when Melo injured himself recently. (He missed the Knicks’ last three games.)

Let’s see who wins the battle here in “Winterfell”!

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