For Iverson, his famous crossover on MJ was more than just a highlight.
Allen Iverson crossed up a wide array of NBA stars during his prime, but the one he pulled off on Michael Jordan often stands out even to this day. For many, it was one of the greatest crossover highlights in NBA history, but for Iverson, it was more than just a move. It was a statement.
“All I could think about is I had no fear. I feared so many other things off the court but nothing on the court. (That crossover) was indicative of how I felt as far as being fearless on the court,” Iverson told NBA.com last year of his famous crossover on Jordan. “We was at war. I looked at him as anybody else being in front of me.”
AI knew he would cross people up right from the jump
Iverson was just a rookie for the Philadelphia 76ers when he swept the world of basketball with that lethal crossover-pull up on Jordan. Since then, AI’s crossover move ultimately gained notoriety in the league, and that went on for the better part of his stellar NBA career, just as how “The Answer” had planned it.
“Coming into the league, I knew if I had the opportunity of trying my move, that I was going to do it, and not be fearful of it,” the four-time NBA scoring champion reflected.
Cocky and confident are two different things
When Iverson entered basketball’s biggest stage as the No. 1 pick in his draft class in 1996, it marked the arrival of a new NBA trendsetter. His playing style, specifically his crossover, was something no other player has ever done before. Isiah Thomas, one of the greatest ball handlers ever to grace NBA hardwood, even declared it after he witnessed how Iverson torched MJ with that move.
With Jordan being regarded as the greatest player of all time at the time, some fans kind of expected to see a tremendous amount of humility from Iverson. Perhaps, they even wanted to hear AI confess that he was intimidated by MJ, and never in his wildest dreams did he imagine crossing up the GOAT like that.
But no. Iverson was just laser-focused on proving that Jordan might be playing tonight, but nobody will play harder than AI.
« I wasn’t nervous because, at a lot of times, people look at it as being cocky, arrogant, but it’s confidence, and my whole thing was everybody knows who Black Jesus is. Everybody knows who number 23 is, but tonight you’re going to know who number 3 is… All I wanted to do is play harder than everybody else,” Iverson once shared.