Anyone can dribble basketball. But few can do that.

There is no more interesting game in basketball.

The player hits the ball up and down, with his left and right eyes bent, cutting off the point of attack. The player restrains the piece by hand and leans in that way, so the defender follows. The ball spins to the other side and the unfortunate defender slips, or falls with an even more awkward result. The crowd oh and behold.

Several basketball skills require more consistent creativity than ball management. The possibilities of flickering dunks and spectacular passes come and go. But innovative ball management is a constant need, especially in the NBA, where athletic defenders are ready to close all points of attack.

Some of the best dribblers in basketball history, including Kairy Irving, James Harden, Chris Paul and Stephen Curry, took part in this year’s NBA postseason. The door creates space for deep 3-pointers while the defenders spoil it. Harden lies to defenders throughout court. Irving is a master in the wrong directions and spin movements to get to the ring. Paul handles the ball as if it were a thread. All four can pass defenders easily.

The New York Times asked three generations of dribblers to discuss ball management: God of Shamgod, Tim Hardaway, and Oscar Robertson.

Shamgod, assistant coach to the Dallas Mavericks, had a short NBA career, but his dribbling on the New York outdoor courts became famous. His characteristic movement – the Shamgod crossover, in which he pushes the ball forward with one hand and then carries it with the other – influenced the players.

Hardaway, who played in the NBA from 1989 to 2003, was one of the league’s best defenders. His notable move was a double crossover called the UTEP Two Step, and he headed to college where he played at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Robertson, the Hall of Fame and the first player to average triple doubles throughout the NBA season, was an early supplier of crossover dribbles in the 1960s.

This conversation has been edited and compressed for clarity.

Shamgod Most of the imagination. Just learn to manipulate the ball and manipulate the angles. To be an elite dribbler, I would say you need to know how to use your body, use your leg work. Because dribbling is just foot work.

Hardaway Do not turn the ball. Being under control. Knowing when to take your man and how to arrange your man.

Robertson Experience and time. I started playing as a child. I was a guard. I started kicking the ball, dribbling and making a lot of mistakes. And then, literally, you get involved and learn about the different players and what they are trying to do for you. And you have the confidence to log in to anyone.

Shamgod A lot has changed with hiring different coaches to help. I want to say that there is a difference between teaching someone movement and someone teaching dribbling. Most people want to learn moves when they come and work with someone. They want to learn Tim Hardaway UTEP Two Step. They want to learn Shamgod crossover or [Allen] Iverson crossover. But for me it really is not dribbling. It is the study of movements.

Hardaway You know, when we were playing, there weren’t that many cameras. There was no social media. So now they catch all the little trifles from every corner, so it could be five different angles where you see a guy shaking his man and going to a hole or crossing someone and going into a hole. Five different angles where you can see a boy swimming or falling.

Robertson The guys who can handle the ball and dribble are the most successful athletes. If you can not hit the ball around anyone, you will not do well in basketball.

Shamgod When I was growing up, I just watched every dribbling movement I could imagine. Then I practiced in slow motion. I would weigh two pounds at the ankle.

I was dribbling in slow motion. I watched the movie in slow motion to see how the guard’s leg works or how they do the movement. And then the biggest thing for me is when I was taking the weights on the wrist, it’s just like when I hit the weights on the wrist. You take your hands away, they fly everywhere.

Hardaway I’m from Chicago. My parents’s basement was not finished and so I would go there when it was cold outside. I was just going downhill, dribbling and just working on my game. Dribbling, as if a man were in front of me. Movements between legs, crossword puzzles behind my back – I spent hours downstairs. Just dribbling, dribbling, dribbling.

Robertson I just watch the guys I was playing with in Indianapolis, a place called the Dust Cup that was outside. It was on concrete, but it was called a dust cup. And they were really excellent basketball players. It is almost unbelievable. I’m sure they have these players in all parts of the country who played well outside but did not play very well when they went inside.

Shamgod Of course, the one I can easily remember: Kiri. Steph. James Harden, Chris Paul.

Hardaway I grew up with the ears of a glorious man named Isaiah Thomas, an excellent ball performer. Moved over my head. Then he moved to Rod Strickland. Oh man, Rod Strickland had crazy handles that no one recognizes anymore. And then, you know, you had guys who came after us. Shamgod. And he is from New York. Derrick Rose from Chicago had some nice handles. Then look at these guys. Chris Paul, you know, is 37 years old, but he still does an amazing job doing what he does with the ball. Cairo, of course. Steph Door, [Ja] Moranti. James Harden.

Robertson I think Kari is very good at managing basketball. And also Ja Morant.

They understand what he is trying to do to protect them. When you go out, you have to control your speed. To some extent, you can not go 100 miles per hour because you do not want to run into anyone. So these guys come in, they watch the defense.

Shamgod Game against Rutgers University. It was against Jeff Bill at Madison Square Garden [1997] Great Eastern Tournament. It was on the right side of the court. That’s when I made that move. I got up to go to the basket and tried to run to steal the ball. And the only thing I could do was pull back with my left hand.

Hardaway It’s a crazy story. I was driving and my son said, “Dad, I know you do not like talking in the car when you go to the game. But I want to ask you. Everyone is talking about the crossover. What is a crossover? ”

I said, “Boy, have you ever seen me do my crossover?” He said, “No!” I said, “Okay, I see, but you can not go anywhere. You need to stay in your place. “Because he loved to walk and walk. Go back to the gaming room, play the PlayStation and all and sundry. I say: “You have to stay in your place the whole game. You go to time to use the bathroom. In addition, you have to stay in your place throughout the game, because I do not know when it will happen, but I guarantee it will happen. “

And of course, like the second game of the game against the New York Knicks, the 7th game [of the 1997 Eastern Conference semifinals]. I came and said, “I’m going to point at you.” I made a crossover, put it down and pointed it out. I could see him jumping up and down in an empty spot, like this: “Yeah, okay, I see. მეს I understand. ”So that was one of those memorable moments when you talked to your child and then showed him in action what a crossover was and how you do it.

Robertson I have not thought about it, to tell you the truth.

Shamgod I think this art is perfect. This is madness because now, even if he says my name in the dictionary, he will not grow up. He will lead the way and show you the way as it is done.

Hardaway Man, it’s like a rhythm. It’s like dancing. Isia was doing this. Nate Archibald was doing it. I used to do it sometimes. Dribbling the ball is like dancing and keeping the rhythm of the song. Cairo if you watch, so dribbling. If you watch Rod Strickland, so does dribbling.

You watch Kemba Walker and if you watch Steph Carr, it sounds like dribbling at the tempo of the song. When you see those basketball commercials and they bounce the ball, it’s like jumping to the rhythm of a song. That’s right. And it just moves gracefully with basketball and you really have such confidence that no one can protect you. No one can catch you, you swirl around you, you look into their eyes and you see fear in their eyes: “Hell, I’m in trouble.” This is where the art of dribbling comes in.

Robertson Just think either you have or you do not.

Source photos: Focus on Sport / Getty Images; Joe Murphy / NBAE, through Getty Images; Dale Tate / NBAE, via Getty Images; Jeff Chiu / Associated Press; Cary Edmondson / USA Today Sports, Reuters; Daniel Dunn / USA Today Sports, via Reuters; Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports, Reuters

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