Miami Heat Great Tim Hardaway Settles Debate, Says Crossover Dribble Is Better Than Allen Iverson’s

Miami Heat great Tim Hardaway has a thing or two to say about who is the true king of the crossover.

The five-time All-Star and Hall of Fame point guard — who made a career out of crossing defenders over with his trademark dribble, the “UTEP two-step” — says there’s “no question” that he has the best crossover when asked who has the best ever dribble.

“I’m the original crossover king,” said Hardaway in a one-on-one interview during All-Star weekend. “Don’t insult me like that.”

Allen Iverson — the Philadelphia 76ers legend and fellow Hall of Fame guard — entered the NBA several years after Hardaway, but was often touted for his own crossover abilities. However, Hardaway — who has always maintained he’s a better crossover artist than Iverson — explained why his crossover dribble is better than the former MVP’s own move.

“People think I’m hating on Allen Iverson,” says Hardaway. “I’m not hating on him. I’m just saying this — ask people what crossover are they using in today’s game. Is it Tim Hardaway’s or is it Allen Iverson? I guarantee nobody in basketball today in the NBA today is using his crossover or teaching his crossover. I guarantee that.”

Hardaway — who entered the NBA in 1989 — was seen as the guard who initiated the crossover revolution in the league. It’s no secret that the 6-foot Hardaway mastered the crossover to the point where he left defenders stuck in their sneakers as he drifted into the paint for baskets.

His crossover abilities were so elite that it not only created easy paint scores for the undersized guard, it led to highlight plays that created easy baskets for his Heat and Golden State Warriors teammates. Hardaway was a nightly highlight reel early on in his career for the “Run TMC’ trio in Golden State featuring fellow future Hall-of-Fame players such as Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond.

Hardaway ranked in the top nine in assists per game in five of his first six seasons — he missed the entire 1993-94 season due to a knee injury — and was named an All-Star in three of his first four years with the Warriors.

Iverson — who entered the league in 1996 — quickly put his imprint on the league due to his variation of the crossover, which was a longer dribble that lulled the defender to sleep before the 6-foot guard would quickly penetrate to the paint.

However, the move didn’t come without controversy. In fact, not only did many consider it to be a carry, the NBA itself considered the move to be a carry. Former referee Tim Donaghy claimed that himself and referees targeted Iverson by calling palming violations on him in one particular game, even going so far as to say that the Philadelphia 76ers great did it every game.

In a November ‘96 column, Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan pointed out how Iverson’s “palming” violation was already creating a fuss shortly into his NBA career.

“The NBA has actually instructed referees to monitor Allen Iverson’s natural dribble, which, as all college basketball fans have known all along, is a palming violation … By God, there’s slim hope for this league yet,” wrote Ryan.

Hardaway points towards Iverson’s reputation for “carrying” the ball as the reason why his crossover is better.

“Because it was a carry,” says Hardaway bluntly. “Everybody says that I’m hating. I don’t hate on Allen Iverson. The truth is the truth. Even the referees in the league said it’s a carry. But they let him get away with it because he was Allen Iverson.”

The 57-year-old former point guard actually defends Iverson’s move, mentioning that other NBA greats such as Magic Johnson and Kevin Durant have gotten away with their own dribbling violations over the years. He also points out that there are multiple traveling violations in the game today, saying that you could call 60 travels per game.

“They let Magic Johnson get away with a double dribble,” says Hardaway. “The referee called it sometimes. If you want to call a carry, Kevin Durant carries all the time. But they don’t call it because that’s his move.”

Hardaway explains that he has no beef with the Sixers guard, calling him the best “pound-for-pound” player in NBA history.

“I love Allen,” says Hardaway. “We don’t have a beef, I’m happy for his career. Pound-for-pound he was the best guard in the NBA. He did what he’s supposed to do, he revolutionized hip-hop culture in the NBA with what he did. I’m not taking anything away from him. But you cannot tell me his crossover is better than mine. I’m just not going to have that.”

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