Allen Iverson looked up to Michael Jordan. Just like most of his peers, he wanted to come as close to Mike as possible. And despite the difference in frames -- A.I. was listed at 6-0, 165 compared to MJ's 6-6, 198 -- he was able to replicate Jordan's on-court mentality. Their playstyles differed, mostly in favor of the bigger and stronger one. But to compensate for the lack of physical gifts, Iverson developed a signature move that set him apart from everyone, No.23 included.
A.I.'s iconic crossover
Almost a decade after his retirement, Iverson is still most peoples' choice for the best crossover of all time. Tim Hardaway and Isiah Thomas get the nod here and there, but for most, it's still A.I., and the decisive factor might be the style behind his hand-to-hand ball switches.
AI’s range of motion while doing the crossover was much wider compared to the two aforementioned all-time great ballhandlers. He also didn’t have to incorporate so much upper-body movement. The ball switch alone did the trick for the Hall of Famer.
The Sixers legend did add to the move by following it up with a step-dance-like motion which allowed him a quicker first step once a defender would bite. That obverse, combined with a streetball-inspired crossover, which many argue bordered on a carry, created one of the most lethal dribbling moves in NBA history -- and even Michael Jordan wasn't immune from it.
The origin of Iverson's crossover
The combination of skill, speed, and extraordinary creativity resulted in an upgraded, yet efficient iteration of the crossover move that has since become iconic. But when did it all start? Because we know Iverson didn't get that move from the one he looked up to the most. The answer to that question lies in Larry Platt's book 2002 book Only the Strong Survive: The Odyssey of Allen Iverson.
"At Georgetown, Iverson often stayed after practice to play one-on-one against walk-on guard Dean Berry," Platt writes. "Berry had known Iverson since the eighth grade, having played against him in AAU tournaments. Now, Iverson was clearly the better player, but one who, in Berry's estimation, got by on pure talent alone. He was so quick he never had to develop moves in order to get to the basket. He could just get there, period."
Berry, on the other hand, had limited basketball skills and had spent years developing his game. He started watching tapes, studying the likes of Tim Hardaway, Isiah Thomas, and John Stockton, trying to emulate how each of them utilized their crossover moves. Iverson kept playing Berry after practice because he couldn't stop his crossover, "even though when knew it was coming."
He'd tell himself not to go for the fake, and he knew he was quicker than his teammate -- the twelfth man on the team! -- but then Berry would drop a cross on him and the next thing you knew, the walk-on was around him. 'Man,' Iverson finally said, 'You gotta show me that s---.'
From then on, Barry taught Iverson his move. He took it to the NBA, utilized it to perfection, and built one of the greatest resumes the game has ever seen. Michael Jordan played a huge part in his Hall of Fame run, and A.I. wastes no opportunity to credit him for it. But perhaps more credit should be given to Dean Berry -- the creator of Iverson's iconic crossover move.