NBA, Playground / Aug 16, 2011 / 4:00 pm

How To Get Freaky With The Rock: The Art Of The Dribble

Jamal Crawford

Honestly, there are few things that feel better than dribbling a basketball. Very few…and those are all outside of basketball. It seems natural: Basketball in hand. The basketball pounding against the gym floor. The sneakers squeaking. On the court, it’s art. Dribble low. Dribble high. Fast. Quick. I know it sounds corny, but for me it’s true. I could be in the gym for hours, and do nothing but push the rock through drills.

When I was younger, my emphasis in high school was ballhandling. It came at the perfect time too. I needed it. In the eighth grade, I was about 5-11, nearly six feet tall. I was the tallest kid on my middle school team, and nearly the tallest on my AAU team, spending the majority of my time in the high post as a four man. I could handle the rock, but had never played on the perimeter.

After my school season ended in March, three months later I was suddenly playing in summer leagues for my high school. I went from looking down at damn near everyone to being middle of the pack, from the paint to the wing, from rarely ever shooting a three to standing out behind it on an island. I went from being a lanky big man to a two guard. I always had range for a bigger player, but ballhandling wasn’t something I worked on consistently. It was slightly uncomfortable at first. Luckily for me, I loved the game enough to be in the gym three hours a day and soon enough, I was fine.

The YMCA I used to go to was relatively new. No one knew about it. It was small, but had built a brand new full court. I especially loved the nets, the way the ball would whip through them whenever I made a shot. Most of the time, I was alone in there. It was the perfect setup to do what I had to, which was to take Jamal Crawford‘s skillset, and try to assimilate some of it into my game.

Even before that, at the time Jason Williams first descended on the national conscious, I was living not too far away from Belle, West Virginia. I saw the high dribble, the showmanship. I saw a rural, country boy living in much the same way I did. I’ve shed light on my obsession with Jason Williams before. Even today, I still sometimes watch his old tapes.


My 5 favorite players to watch dribble:
1. Jason Williams
2. God Shammgod
3. Baron Davis
4. Ben Gordon
5. Allen Iverson/Bone Collector
(it’s a tie)


Eventually, I was rummaging through my garage, past the old fridge and the dusty and ragged tools, into a box to find a pair of enormous garden gloves. Brown as the dirt that was matted to them, old as the box I found them in, my fingers barely fit halfway down the gloves. I still don’t know who wore them. Then I was at the gym, every day, two $10 rubber Wilson basketballs and a pair of garden gloves. As Billy Donovan once told J-Will to do, I dribbled: spider drills, two-ball drills, behind-the-back off the wall, full-court speed drills and half-court avalanches (a drill I made up where I start from midcourt with an in-place move and run towards the basket doing a move every step in a stream of conscience that doesn’t end until I’m right at the rim).

When I did eventually take off the gloves, usually about an hour into it, the ball would whip from hand to hand like a beach ball with gravity. The Wilson was as large as a watermelon but as light as a Nerf ball.

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  • http://www.dimemag.com Dylan Murphy

    Crossover step-back: the only move I’ve ever been able to make with some consistency.

  • kyballer312

    My favorite attack move: Speed Dribble to Cross-Over to Step-Back to Cross-Over…works err time…EEERRR TIME…LOL when I was younger!!!

  • Promoman

    I like two & three ball drills. I think the foundations of ball handling are whether or not you can go either way and whether or not you can get by someone. Not to hate on looking nice with the ball but if you don’t have the brains to go with the moves, then you’re useless. Playing the height card doesn’t make you a ball handler. You can go to any spot and find at least close to 100% of the shorties who think they’re AI but either can’t handle the ball at all or are limited as hell. There are also guys who’re fundamental but you’ve got to have help D for them because they can actually handle the ball and actually play.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE


    Didn’t Kanye say something in a song about next time he is at church no photos lol.

    KOBE! LOL!

  • http://www.twitter.com/tootalented21 Talented

    Pearl Washington, Christ! 1st crossover of the video he fell into it so smooth smh never could get that one

  • beiber newz

    my favorite attack move: getting a girl on all fours with her booty meat all round and juicy, i stay positioned behind her. then i explode in a fury of love.

  • beiber newz

    sophia castello…

  • control

    Dribbling is only for lil’ fucks who should then give the rock to the real men manning the post up.

    I hate watching AI videos, there are like 5 times in that small video that show him going on a 3on1 fast break, and not passing the ball at all, or even looking or thinking about passing. Not to mention the guy carries the ball so badly it’s sick, and he was the one who started that whole trend in the nba about carrying and traveling to hearts content…

  • http://www.twitter.com/tootalented21 Talented

    They changed or amended the carrying rule because of him…and then after that he proceeded to shred defenders. Stop hatin, give respect where its due.

  • bobby stew

    sounds like the guards you play with don’t pass the ball enough? It’s cool to have handles but I hate guys that dribble with absolutely no purpose

  • Promoman

    @ bobby stew

    Or they may be guards take the FaceBook approach to playing. The dumbasses can find whomever they’re cool with no matter how unopen they are with Magic Johnson court vision. These same assholes get Ray Charles court vision when it comes to open players. Someone could be beside them or under the goal open and they’ll make a 360 degree crossover pass to somebody on the other team or to who’s not in position to score.

  • SwissArmyKnife5

    @Control Dribbling is only for lil’ fucks who should then give the rock to the real men manning the post up.

    Wow bro really? I’m a 6’4ht 223lbs point guard, but I’m big enough to postup plus I can jump 35-40 inches to finish at the bucket. It sounds like either your playing with some sorry players, or you’re a sorry player. I mean even when I don’t run the point from the start of the game if the guy running the one can’t do the job I take over. Maybe you should work on your handle then you could handle the ball yourself. I was taught to work on all 5 positions, and let your height determine what you play. I can play the 1-4 legit, but I prefer playing the point.

  • SwissArmyKnife5

    @Sean Sweeney

    Yo this was one of the best articles on the site Dime should have an handkes edition best ballhandlers of the last ten years. To answer your question the best way to get handles is to just dribble. I know this sounds simple, but I mean be able to dribble equally with both hands. You want to find your rythm, its almost pointless to get into drills before doing this. Also you have to work on flexibilty, and strength to be able to have a solid dribbling foundation. So pretty much get the fundamentals down first then get into the drills, and with the drills my rule is if I can’t use it in a game then why work on it. The sleeper is working on your grip strength this improves ballhandling alot.

    I only have one complaint though You left Rafer Alston, Jamal Crawford, and Jamaal Tinsley off your list.

  • beiber newz


  • control


    I was actually kidding, since I’m a 6’8 guy who switches between point and power forward (highpost setup with pass first to cutters).

    I just hate it when little fucks play like AI and completely ruin a pickup game with their lack of basketball IQ.

  • SwissArmyKnife5

    @Control I agree with that bro. I can’t stand playing with a short dude who guns, and insist on running the point.

  • Promoman


    Yes sir. Those idiots kill the offense, especially in transistion and they tend to be in the way on defense too. They help the other teams on both sides of the ball.

  • Mo

    God Shammgod says CP3 is the best dribbler.

    And who is the point guard with the best dribbling skills?

    GS: Chris Paul. He dribbles real good.

    Read more: http://blogs.hoopshype.com/blogs/barrigon/category/god-shammgod/#ixzz1VsK2aIBD