Allen Iverson, one of the most electrifying players to ever pick up a basketball, finally had his jersey retired by the Philadelphia 76er's on Saturday night. It was a bittersweet occasion. The Sixers organization expressed their deep gratitude to Iverson throughout the ceremony, and gave him a fishing boat as a parting gift which is something he is sure to get use out of.
Because of the way the end of Iverson's career fizzled out, it was sad to see his jersey go into the rafters, knowing he didn't go out on his own terms. My favorite player of all time deserves a more fitting exit from the game. He’s one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen; his passion cannot be overstated.
Since his days at Georgetown, Iverson has been one of the most influential players of his generation. Standing at 6 feet tall on a good day, A.I was never intimidated to take it to the basket among the trees and absorb the punishment.
As a rookie, he wasn’t intimidated to check the greatest player of all time.
As a rookie, he ran away with the rookie of the year award. He captured the attention of basketball fans everywhere in just his first season in the league. He was destined to become one of the most memorable players the league has ever seen.
He put the entire city of Philadelphia on his back and almost single handedly brought them to the NBA finals in 2000-2001. He was named league MVP that year, and also lead the league in scoring & steals. Oh yeah, and he lead the league in both categories the following year as well. No other guard could have done what he did with the teammates he had. That’s not a knock on his teammates in Philly, but he did more with less than any player ever, until LeBron did it with Cleveland.
He was an All-Star for 11 straight seasons and averaged 26.7 points, 6.2 assists, and just over two steals a game. Thats including, his final three seasons which he only played a total of 56 games. His quickness, ferocity, athleticism, hustle and toughness were the intangibles that won’t show up on a stat sheet, but are what made him a player like none other.
Looking at his career as a whole, the biggest comparison he draws is that of Isiah Thomas. Sure, Isiah was great in his own right, but he had the bad boys in Detroit. In Philly, The Answer was the only Answer. He came to play night in and night out, carrying the work load on both ends of the floor. He truly left his heart on the court, and is appreciated by basketball fans everywhere, whether they want to admit it or not. He paved the way for undersized guards, and was a trailblazer for what the NBA is today.
So, lets remember him for that.
Remember him as clean shaven, no tattoos rookie out of Georgetown.
Remember him for drilling that jumpshot in MJ’s eye in his rookie season.
Remember his shot against the Lakers in the finals, and when he stepped over Tyron Lue.
I’d say remember the “practice rant”, but who could forget that? Let’s just not forget about who he really was, The Answer.