The Crossover

The Crossover Imagery

Playing Basketball

Alexander excels at creating images of the basketball court and the players dribbling, running, shooting, performing dazzling maneuvers, and shouting out to each other. He uses vivid descriptions and structures his words and lines in ways that connote movement, the chaos of the gym, and the exhilaration of the players as they do what they love. For example, we can picture Josh in our mind's eye due to Alexander's writing here:

"'cause now I'm CRUNKing




and my dipping will leave you









The boys as babies

Dad joyfully recalls the boys as babies, holding a bottle in one hand and a ball in the other. This image suggests just how deeply-rooted basketball is in their lives if they're mere babies and they are already being taught the game. It is a sweet image, of course, but it also suggests that Dad believes the boys simply must play and carry on his legacy. It's worth considering the trouble that might have arisen if one or both of them had not wanted to play or had not been good at it.


Josh is utterly bereft at his father's heart attack and resulting hospitalization. He thinks that he does not want to be there at the hospital, and that "the only thing that matters is swish" but "our backboard is splintered" (204). The splintered backboard is a potent image that suggests destruction, fragmentation, and loss. In this case, it symbolizes the splintering of the family as a result of Chuck's health issues.

Free Throws

The last image of the book is a deeply moving one, especially as its culmination is something the reader has to imagine on their own. Josh is shooting free throws and thinking of Dad when JB joins him. The brothers make up after their long estrangement and tacitly begin coming to terms with the loss of Dad. At the very end, Josh gives JB the ball and says, "I watch / the ball / leave his hands / like a bird / up high, / skating / the sky, // crossing over / us" (237). We don't know if he makes it, but we can picture the ball aloft in the air, moving as if in slow motion, "crossing over" them as if it were their Dad's spirit. It is beautiful and tragic.