Steve Kerr showered praise on Philadelphia 76ers icon Allen Iverson, claiming his distinct play alone changed the way the NBA game was played.
Iverson was a pioneer in many ways, the perfect marriage of hip-hop, its culture, and the game he loved — all meshed into a mesmerizing 6-foot whirlwind that took the league by storm. Yet for Kerr, his trailblazing ways start and end on the court, namely with his signature crossover move.
“The crossover, in my mind, changed the way players played,” said Kerr, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes. “Before Iverson, his move was a carry, and guys had to keep their hand on top of the ball. So he was groundbreaking with that move because it was a hesitation into the crossover that nobody had really done before.”
Before Iverson, longtime Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat point guard Tim Hardaway possessed the single most lethal weapon among all little men — The Killer Crossover — but to Kerr, Iverson’s outside-to-outside crossover was devastating enough to engrain itself into NBA history forever.
“Tim Hardaway’s crossover was nasty, but it was perfectly legal. The way he did it, there wasn’t that hesitation,” said Kerr. “So what Iverson did, nobody had ever seen it before, and it was a borderline carry. And to me, what happened, he was popular and exciting to watch. I think the league sort of realized we don’t want to call a carry. I think the league literally looked at it and said, ‘What do we do with this?'”
After a shakedown of Michael Jordan, one of the league’s best-regarded one-on-one defenders, the league had a decision to make — and the boom of the sport mattered more than abiding by decade-old rules.
“The guys you watch now and the whole game is based on hesitation and disruption of ball-handling,” added Kerr. “So Iverson literally changed the rules without ever saying anything. By just playing the way he did and doing the things he did, changed a whole generation if you watch every player that comes up.”
The use of cornrows, the wide use of tattoos, and the baggy clothing, all eventually have faded with the many changes that have come since his era, but the crossover is just as engrained in the NBA’s bloodlines as barbecue sauce in ribs.