Originally published 23 Feb 2011 on Sportskeeda
Allen Iverson’s name is synonymous with crossovers. In his words, “My game is all about getting my man to back off me so I can get a shot off”. To drive into the heart of the defense, you have to get them to respect your outside shot. Most of these moves rely on the defense guarding you close thus allowing you to get them off balance.
A crossover dribble is done by changing the dribbling hand. What a player ought to know is whenever you move the ball from one hand to the other, you are also influencing the momentum of the man guarding you. With a small series of well thought out moves, one can create enough space to launch a jumper or open up a lane to the basket. Iverson does say that he makes up many of his moves as he goes along, but the following moves are ones you can add to your repertoire to pull out when needed.
There is a saying that good players drive to the center, rookies go baseline. While coming along the baseline may give you some extra options, it’s a double edged thing as the baseline can end up trapping you with nowhere to go. Driving towards the basket along the baseline gives you one extra angle which you don’t get from driving straight. You can go under the basket and shoot from the other side. Or, like Steve Nash does so often, keep your dribble alive and find a cutting man. Nash, a Canadian, may have seen a lot of this in Ice Hockey, where players go around and behind the goal all the time looking for something to develop.
Allen Iverson, when he drives baseline, usually has the ball in the hand closer to the baseline. This way right after bouncing the ball he can move closer to the baseline by having the ball hand hover beyond the sideline until his next dribble thus giving him a narrower line to the rim.
For this move Iverson dribbles the ball just three times and ends up with a clear lane to the basket. He fakes a drive, pulls back and drives back in. Its a simple move but there is no wasted motion involved. Observe how his footwork places him in an ideal position to explode to the basket in a clear lane.
Fake a drive along the baseline
For the first move, fake a drive towards the baseline. End up with the left leg forward and pause in a crouching position as shown below while completing your first dribble.
Two defenders immediately cut off Iverson's path to the rim
The defense relaxes as Iverson pulls back
Keep the right leg fixed and pull the left leg back. The ball hasn’t bounced the second time yet and both your feet are together. In one motion pull your right leg back while keeping the left fixed and do a quick 1-2 crossover, from left to right to left again.
AI barely lets the ball bounce to his right before switching back to left
Explode to the rim
Here are the steps from another angle:
1- After the fake drive, pull back your left leg while keeping the right fixed.
2- With both feet together, switch your body weight to your left foot.
3- Drag your right leg behind you while doing a quick 1-2 crossover from left to right to left again getting the D off balance. Now you are in a runner’s starting stance ready to explode to the rim.
4- Drive in with your shoulder lowered. Iverson has the ball hovering over the sideline, this gives him a narrower path to the rim.
5- Finish strong or pass it off while the defense collapses on you. Here, Iverson finishes with a layup to the side of the basket for two reasons. One, his momentum prevented him from finishing along the left. Two, this way he can shield the ball with his body against the help defender.
Here is the video:
A recurring theme in many of Iverson’s moves is the Rule of 3. Sell two moves as fakes, and make your move on the third. The defense expects you to fake your first move, so make your first move knowing that the defense expects a fake. Sell the second fake and make your move on the third.
This isn’t Newton’s Law of fakes etched in stone. The defense doesn’t always expect a fake. Many times a simple hesitation move or stutter step will suffice. In the above move, the initial drive to the baseline was the first fake. The pullback and quick cross to the right was the second which the defense committed to, leading up to the open lane through which Iverson drove in for his third move.