Game Changers: Shammgod Crossover

The Shammgod Crossover, also known as simply the Shammgod, was popularized by God Shammgod, a New York basketball legend, guard for Providence from 1995-97, professional player and a current member of the Dallas Mavericks staff.

The move consists of nonchalantly dropping the ball in front of you with one hand, then quickly reaching across your body with the opposite hand and crossing the ball over, shifting momentum the other way to leave your defender dazed.

In the guard-focused modern NBA, the Shammgod has become a staple of the sport. Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Manu Ginobli and many other great perimeter players have included it in their ball handling arsenals.

But the move is from even before Shammgod’s time. It’s origins are credited to Dragan Kićanović, one of the most decorated players in European basketball history.

Kićanović played from 1966-84 with five different European clubs, spending the longest time with Partizan Belgrade from 1972-81 in his home country of Yugoslavia. He was born in Čačak in what is now Serbia in 1953. He made 216 appearances with the Yugoslavian National Team from 1973-83 and scored 3,330 points for his country. He helped his nation win gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, silver at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, a World Championship in Manila in 1978 and two other top-three finishes the 1974 and 1982 World Championships. In Europe, he achieved three European Championships (1973 Barcelona, 1975 Belgrade, 1977 Liege) and two more top-three finishes (1979 Turin, 1981 Prague). In his club career, Kićanović was instrumental in two European Cups (1978, 1979), three Yugoslavian League titles (1976, 1979, 1981) and a Yugoslavian Cup (1979). He was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2010.

The move has evolved since its invention, even before coming overseas to America. Danko Cvjetićanin, another Yugoslavian but from what is now Croatia, was the next to push the move’s needle. He aimed to emulate Kićanović and used his move often in his game. He added a bit of a quirk to it, utilizing both hands as opposed to only one.

“El Latigo,” which means “The Whip” in Spanish, was the move’s name from its birth through this point, and Dejan “White Magic” Bodiroga took it to another level. He was known for the creative crossover, boasting it constantly during his 18-year career from 1989-2007, which included more accoladates than I can list. Like Kićanović, Bodiroga was born in what is now Serbia and played out his career in Europe despite being selected in the 1995 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings. He is considered one of the best players to never play in the NBA.

Once Shammgod got hold of El Latigo, that was the end of it. In the 1997 NCAA Tournament, Shammgod helped get the No. 10 seed Friars one win away from the Final Four. In the Elite Eight against Arizona, he showed off the move for the country to see with a little more than seven minutes to go in the game. He walked the ball up the floor and waved for his teammate in the corner to clear the space. Shammgod took three little steps, then two big toward the baseline, leaving the ball slightly out in front of him on the final one. Then he used his left hand to bring it back across his body, fully turning Arizona’s Michael Dickerson around, before getting to the rim.

Shammgod is considered one of the best ball handlers of all time and was important in helping teach Kobe Bryant the most effective way to dribble. His legacy lives on through the Shammgod or El Latigo, depending upon which side of the pond you’re from.

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