Crowd Participation: Would You Rather Get Crossed Over Or Dunked On?

Watch this.

Then watch this.

Truth be told, if you played basketball more than once in your life (or still play), something like both of these plays happened to you. Whether it was during your days as an intramural all-star or back on the monkey bars before your growth spurt, you were on the receiving end of some embarrassing dunks and crossovers.

And while there’s a good chance you’ve returned the favor once before, there was no way in hell that you managed to have avoided becoming part of a neighborhood's or gym’s proverbial highlight package.

Because such inevitability is part of the game, it seems that it would be only fair to ask the question: Would you rather get hit with a lethal crossover or become someone’s YouTube clip because of an earth-shattering dunk?

Before you go ahead and stick with the first choice that came to mind, consider the elements of both before you make a final decision.

The Crossover: Great athleticism, sheer pride or both have you defending the one player on the court with the best handle you’ve seen in a long time. There’s nothing terribly fancy or excessive about it, unlike half the guys you play against that rather carry the ball than actually move it quickly. She (yep, she) calls for the isolation from nearly halfcourt, knowing damn well you’re sizing her up. All but one of her teammates part the perimeter sea, and it’s on. You start defending at mid-crouch because while you know she’s going to go right, you want to give yourself the chance to push her left.

She keeps the ball almost parallel to her right foot, but it’s close enough where you think you can pick her pocket. A step back, and you halfheartedly reach for the ball just to jolt the rhythm a bit. She takes another step back, and you already failed.

With a little more space now between you and her, you get a little cocky and shake yourself loose out of the defensive stance. She’s kind enough to let you reposition, but you decide to crouch lower and hold your shorts at the knees as some note that you’re serious.


She doesn’t switch hands until a quick behind-the-back dribble, but she re-gathers with the right. You actually reach this time, but it was a half-second behind after she switched to the left hand. You take a step back with your right foot but suddenly she feigns a stutter-step. You try to get that left foot parallel, and BOOM, she got you. Three low and quick dribbles at shin level – left-to-right, right to-left, left-back-to-right – and you buckled. Your foamposites get scuffed, you’re falling backwards, and she buries a three for good measure.

No one mourns for you. Everyone just laughs.

The Dunk: It’s late in a close game of 4-on-4, and everything is getting a little more intense. A few extra elbows are thrown in the post, and no one’s backing down. Guys are setting double screens, and suddenly you find yourself without someone to defend … for about four seconds.

The guy who has the rock has been dunking on people since he was 6’1” in the seventh grade. He used to throw down on people in college, even though it was in garbage time because he was a 12th man on a really good team back in the day. Now, he’s going to catch up to the glory days he never really had on campus.

You’ve been fighting off screens for the last 10 minutes in this game, and you’re getting tired. Your shot’s still going in, but you’re losing your legs because you’ve been working more on defense than expected. It’s been a long day, there are no substitutes, and there isn’t enough Gatorade. Crap.

You moved behind one attempted pick near the rim, and you’re now standing in the key. Our former high school all-star, now at about 6’6”, sees there’s not much else between him and the basket except this sweat-drenched, poorly postured guy.

This is not your moment.

He goes full steam ahead as you begin to make your way towards him. His first three steps are Usain Bolt strides off the block. At the foul line, he picks up his dribble as you think of channeling your inner Dikembe Mutumbo. One more step, and he’s got the ball cradled behind him with his right arm.

He pushes himself upward, arm fully extended behind him and looking like a catapult about to fire. You should be moving out of the way. You should be moving out of the way. YOU SHOULD BE MOVING OUT OF THE WAY!

You jumped, too.

Unless you’re Dhalsim from Street Fighter, your arms are too short to box with God and equally too short to jam this guy at the rim. At mid-air, both of you meet rather violently. His arm and the ball are now over your head. His forward motion is destroying yours.

He’s Vince Carter; you’re Alonzo Mourning.

Now, you may choose. Would you rather get crossed up or dunked on?

30 Replies to “Crowd Participation: Would You Rather Get Crossed Over Or Dunked On?”

  1. This is a great piece and probably fun as hell to write. To me, this is no contest. None at all. I'd rather get dunked on every day of the week. Getting dunked on means you were at least trying to defend and block a shot. Sometimes it's gonna happen, but it's mostly isolated.

    As for getting crossed up? If it happens bad, you are in danger of it happening again. And again. It can repeated embarrassment, which his way worse than a dunk.

  2. I'd rather get crossed over.

    There's a sense of pride involved when getting absolutely humiliated by good handles and then there's the dirty shame when getting dunked on. Let's just say they YouTube dunks a hell of a lot more than crossovers.

    1. That's because dunks are more rare, meaning you can avoid them more than a crossover. Good handle can embarrass you at anytime. Big dunks on someone aren't as prevalent in a game - you may get 3-4 tops in a game where you can get crossed over every couple of plays. That's why I'd rather get dunked on. I can laugh it off. Crossed up? I'm always in fear of it coming back again and again.

  3. Man this post had me thinking of some of the most epic plays in hoop history. I've been crossed up and dunked on but getting crossed up usually gets to me more. If you are a real baller, you are going to get dunked on from time to time but getting crossed up just looks so bad.

  4. Get Dunked on for $500 Alex... even in the NBA there are only a handful of guys that have enough moxy to tried to raise up on a defender so if it happens, just short of him putting his scrotom in your face or completely jumping over you, you can overcome that highlight reel.

    When it comes to handles however, anyone can give you the business if its set up right and sometimes the cross isnt always about what the ballhandler did but what you didnt (not enough feet space so you stumble) but the crowd aint trying to hear that and whats worse he/she can cross you over but miss the shot or you get back on defense but only thing ppl will remember is mishap

    1. Q, the one thing that saddens me at times is how few players are willing to meet at the rim. Since breathing on a player is a foul now (and back in the day, being in the same building as Michael Jordan was once a flagrant), this doesn't happen enough.

      This is another question for debate, but if LeBron (who may have thrown down some rim-rockers, but honestly, he hasn't done it on another player very much) played at least a decade earlier, I wonder how those potential collisions would have gone.

  5. I've given out both and gotten both, and with that, I'd much rather get dunked on. When you get dunked on, it is a pretty hopeless feeling, but you can laugh it off.

    Getting crossed up is so much more mental. Once it happens, foolish pride can kick in, ESPECIALLY if they finish the play with a basket and you may try to go stick the person again. That can be fatal though, especially when they cross your ass up again.

    1. I'm a 5'6" Caucasian, so same thing … only that much more unimpressive. Getting my shot blocked inside never even fazes me. Nor getting dunked on. But crossed up? I hate that so much.

  6. I would much rather be dunked on.
    I have been dunked on because I was help-side defense and I can always be "fake mad" and yell at the on-man defender who got beat -- which is exactly what I did.

    Being crossed over, there CAN be so much luck involved.
    If you get off-balance as a defender, a lucky dribble and boom, you're crossed... I have crossed someone by accident because they were off-balance and I just dribbled the other way. It LOOKED good, but wasn't much of anything to be honest.

  7. I'd like to add, you can do everything right and still get dunked on. Simply superior athleticism can render you helpless. On the flip side, getting crossed over can be prevented, no matter how hard it may seem. So you should be more angry getting crossed up, because you can do something about that. It's more embarrassing because you have a defense against it, whereas sometimes you just don't on a dunk.

  8. I'd rather be crossed over. At least I have the chance to return the favor on the other end. Since I'm about as height challenged as the Rev., if you dunk on me, all I can do is nod and try to do a creative reverse layup on you later on.

  9. Being dunked on or being crossed up. I would have to say dunked on. Being dunked on can come at the heat of the game, but I saw a girl crossed up another girl at the end of a win. Insulting to say the least.

  10. I'd rather get crossed up.

    Getting dunked on is as complete as an exclaimation point at the end of the sentence. Nothing you can say after you get banged on. At least with a cross over, it they miss the shot, it doesn't really matter. AND it's much easier to return the favor.

  11. I rather get dunked on because you can avoid those situations more than getting broke off with a cross, the crossover is normally in a one on one situation so it sticks with you longer especially if you can't get buckets or cross him back. I can't jam but I've stopped a few dunks in my day and also made cats fall. If you fall which I've never done that has to stick with you forever but I've gotten mixed up it can give you a defeated feeling. The only way the dunk would make me feel bad is if the the guy was smaller than me. I'm 5'11-6 ft depends on the kicks lol.

  12. I'm posting my replies on Twitter and Facebook. I thought about it many times over the years (I asked this a lot). And right now, I would say that I rather get dunked on.

    For me, in relation to hoops, it's clear that I am vertically challenged (I'm 5'7). More often than not, unless I have Spud Webb's genes, I'm not outleaping anyone trying to throw it down.

    I did have decent hops, and I actually played defense. When I got dunked on, it was bad, but I could take that with pride. At least he knew I wanted to see the show up close.

    Yet, getting hit with a cross over? If you loved making life hard for a PG as I used to, it's hell. Save for the pride thing, the 1st thing happened a couple of times. What makes the cross over worse for me is the next possession when the player calls for the ball AGAIN. That's just unfair. I rather see the soles of someone's shoes than the floor under me.

    This has been insanely fun, folks. Think 'Crowd Participation' is going to be a thing for me here on occasion.

  13. Get dunked on. Here's why.

    When you get crossed up, 9 times outta 10, you're on an island for everybody to see. Plus, when you get crossed up, there is so much more that can happen afterwards that just magnifies the moment. The dude can step back and hit the jumper. The dude can go by you and get an shot + a foul. All the while, you're either still on your back looking at the ceiling questioning the meaning of life or trying to hurry and get up while your legs still feel like wet noodles.

    Then again, there's no coming back from having a dude put his nuts in your face because he's dunking on you. Just ask Dwight Howard how Kobe did him his rookie year.

    So I really don't have an answer.

    1. The 'groin to the face' fears are being heard loud and clear.

      I always think of Marcus Camby on Mutumbo throughout the Knicks' sweep of Atlanta in '99. I don't think I've ever seen Dikembe look so bad on defense before. Several times, Camby let him have it ferociously. It was comical.

  14. I'd much rather get dunked on. It's not even close. Even at the highest level, when certain guys go up there's nothing you can do to stop them. But a cross-over is one on one, I'm here you're there, can you beat me. There's more pride at stake. It's like in hockey would you rather take a body check or get beat one on one? The latter to me is far more embarrassing.
    Disclaimer: I've never crossed up anyone in my life. I once dunked on a 8.5 foot hoop.

  15. Great question. I've broken some inseams and I've looked like the Scarecrow. If there is a drawback about crossing someone over is you better be prepared to take a quality shot coming out of your move...and make it. The beauty of finishing on someone is just that, it's a finishing move. It finishes a play and in some cases reputations (Shawn Bradley, Tim Duncan and Alonzo Mourning). Would I rather be Michael Cooper leaping when Doc is about to orbit the Spectrum or MJ flailing at Iverson?

    I'd rather be crossed over. Alton Lister agrees too.

    1. But when you see that clip of Dr. J and Cooper, at least for me, your first reaction is, "Wow, what a great play by Dr. J!"

      When you see Jordan get the live crossed out of him by A.I., at least for me, your first reaction is, "Wow, MJ just got punked!"

      Maybe it's just me … but then again, most of Ed's obituaries are on dunks. We need more broken ankles obituaries.

  16. On a long list of embarrassing sports moments, being crossed-out is nowhere to be found. And at my advanced age, I can gladly and assuredly say…it will never happen. “Getting crossed” is tantamount to being pushed over and having sand kicked in your face in front the girl you like.

    I’ve been dunked on…once, but my ego healed quickly...”he was 6’6 and played college hoop…I’m just out here for the exercise”. Excuses don’t fly when you get crossed. Any fool with decent handles and no “real” game can get you.

  17. I dished out a couple broken ankles in my day, but I never had the pleasure of dunking, with that said if I could trade the ankle breakers for a couple dunks I most definitely would, but I guess we can't have it all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *