The History of the Crossover: One of the NBA’s deadliest moves

NBA Miami Heat Tim Hardaway Credit: Robert Laberge /Allsport
NBA Miami Heat Tim Hardaway Credit: Robert Laberge /Allsport /

Taking a look back at the history of the NBA crossover, which originated with Tim Hardaway

Initially, it was just a move; nothing more.

That was in the late 1960s. First popularized by Oscar Robertson. Then, it became more than a move. It became basketball’s “go-to” whenever a player attempted to go for a steal.

A chronological tale. The “crossover” existed before the original Air Jordan Retro sneakers first released. That’s when Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan pervaded America’s basketball landscape. We all had the Air Jordan’s. Many of us still do. We always wanted to be the FLYEST and most SWAGGED OUT kids on the block rocking“J’s.”. But the “crossover” has a deeper history than the retros did.

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Remember Tim Hardaway? Well, he’s the originator, so they say. That’s according to the research. I would go on a limb and say, “He’s the first one I saw to make someone’s ankles break.”

Hardaway’s first season was with Golden State, then he headed to Miami, Dallas, Denver, and finally Indiana. Five-time NBA all-star. A decent resume with those teams. But he wasn’t the only one to break people’s ankles. We have to flip the archives back further to “AI.” The Answer.

The first guy who shook Michael Jordan out of his shoes. It became the most talked-about (ankle-breaker story) in American sports media. Why? Because MJ wasn’t supposed to get his ankles broke! We’re talking about MJ! Just like Iverson said during a press conference in the 1990s, “We’re talking about practice man!” 

This is deeper than a practice. Tim Hardaway. The originator. The inventor. He invented the move with the intention of making defenders fall. Otherwise, why would he invent it? And why would it become basketball’s (Mortal Kombat) finisher move? For the purpose of making someone fall.


Tim Hardaway revolutionized the crossover to the max in the early 1990s. As they say, “Film don’t lie.” Watch his old tapes. The 1989 tapes (when television networks still used linear editing with analog videotapes). So, we’re talking OLD SCHOOL.

Hardaway’s “crossover” goes back to his early days in Golden State. He stayed with the Warriors from 1989-1996. One of the sickest moves I remember from a tape I watched, was when he froze John Stockton after a stutter-step, head fake, and in and out dribble. Stockton didn’t know what to think; shocked in disbelief.

It’s the “history” of the move that makes this narrative so compelling. Those intimate moments; on the court; in the zone; and here comes the “crossover” with a head fake and stutter step. Hardaway did all of this, but there’s more to the history.

Historically, basketball’s “go-to” move, has always aroused NBA fans. It’s been around for a while. In fact, the move itself has revolutionized the game. Revolutionized it to a level where now every “baller” has acquired it as their “go-to” move. Compare it to the popularity of “mild sauce;'”a popular sauce that originated in Chicago.

That’s pretty popular. Because everybody from the Chicagoland region knows the seriousness of mild sauce. It coincides with the seriousness of getting broke off by the “crossover.”

Ordinarily, whenever I write a piece, I always like to focus on the facts. The things that matter. Not opinions. And each time, I feel like I’ve made tremendous improvements to my craft. Again, it’s about progression.

Let’s “crossover” from that. Tim Hardaway revolutionized the move. And since then, it’s become arguably the hardest move to defend.

Like I said earlier; Initially, it was just a move.

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It’s more than a move. It’s a lifestyle. A historical narrative. A move with ‘swag.’ A move with style.

Let’s thank the originator; Tim Hardaway. And I can’t forget about my man Oscar Robertson.

Again, it’s just a move; nothing more.