You’ve probably heard by now that Allen Iverson â€“ one of the greatest scorers in the history of the NBA â€“ is prepared to retire later this week. Iverson, 38, began his career with the Philadelphia 76ers and played his last NBA game with the team in 2010. He wasn’t only known throughout the NBA as a scorer, but also as a player with one of the best crossovers in history, something he reinvented in the early ’90s.
The Answer had a decorated career to say the least. He averaged 26.7 points, 6.2 assists, and 2.2 steals a game and led the Sixers to an NBA Finals appearance in 2001 against Kobe Bryant‘s Los Angeles Lakers.
Over a 14-year career, Iverson dropped over 24,000 points, recorded nearly 2,000 steals and over 5,600 assists, 37,000 minutes and started 901 of 914 career games. Iverson was an 11-time All-Star, a regular season MVP and four-time scoring champion. Basketball-Reference‘s Elo Fan Ratings has him listed at 27th all time, in front of Reggie Miller and behind Patrick Ewing.
Though he changed the game on the court, he also did in the locker room. From famous interviews about “practice” to coming to home games draped in fur minks and Timberland boots, Iverson redefined the modern basketball player.
With his impending retirement, we at Dime thought we should honor one of the game’s most gifted and controversial players. Here are A.I’s top 10 most iconic moments.
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10. IVERSON’s RETURN TO PHILLY
After being traded to the Denver Nuggets three years earlier, Iverson rejoined the 76ers in December of 2009 (another time he hinted at his retirement from basketball).
Iverson would only play 25 games with the club, one that he didn’t start, and went on to average 13.9 points. His best game came against the Lakers when he dropped 23 points and dished a few assists. But Iverson looked depleted. He wasn’t the same player — this time he just wanted to fit in. He shed tears during his return. He was subdued. There was no talk of “practice.”
From an introductory presser from the Huffington Post:
“When I had the opportunity to come back here, I couldn’t turn it down,” said Iverson during a tearful press conference after re-signing with the team that originally drafted him. “I’m just happy.
“I want to fit in. I want to be a part of any success we have,” Iverson said. “I just want to be one of the guys. I don’t need a whole bunch of praise. I don’t need a whole lot of accolades. I just want to play basketball.”
9. IVERSON SHOWS THE WIZARDS SOME MAGIC
It was November of 2004. The Sixers were playing the Wizards at the old Wachovia Center, back in the days before it was renamed. The teams were tied at 114 a piece, 3.3 seconds were left on the clock.
It was show time.
Iverson stole the inbound pass. He drove up the mahogany hardwoods and laid the ball in with two tenths of a second left for the Wizards to respond. The Answer had spoken and he ran around the floor, cupping his hand to his ear, soaking in the moment, the exaltation from the crowd. This was only his second game-winning bucket to the point in what had been a nine-year career for Iverson, but it was certainly one of his most memorable.
8. IVERSON VS. THE HORNETS
In the first round of the NBA Playoffs in 2003, Iverson basically took on the New Orleans Hornets, by himself.
Statistically his best playoff game, Iverson scored 55 points in Game 1 of the series, his career-high in the postseason. He also dished eight assists, shot nearly 66 percent from the field and only missed one free throw. The Sixers won the series 4-2, and Iverson would finish with point totals of 55/29/28/22/30/and would clinch the series on a 45-point outing. He didn’t play less than 43 minutes in any game in the series.
7. A.I. NAMED MVP OF 2001 NBA ALL-STAR GAME
During the Sixers’ best season of the 21st century, Iverson was selected as a starter for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star team. It wasn’t an easy road for the eventual MVP. The East was down by 21 points in the fourth quarter and Iverson sparked a run. He scored 15 points in the last nine minutes of the contest and won the game by one point, 111-110. Iverson led all scorers with 25 points.
The moment was so iconic because Larry Brown was the coach of the East team. Despite the differences between the two, Brown and Iverson showed love and mutual respect for each other during the game’s events.
Iverson expressed his gratitude to Brown when David Stern handed him the trophy, asking, “Where’s my coach at? Where’s Coach Brown?”
Sports Illustrated wrote:
It was a nice touch by Iverson to seek out Larry Brown, his coach for the past 3 1/2 seasons. For a player often described as selfish and immature, it was a giant step toward superstardom.
“It’s special, and it’s a tribute to my coach and my teammates,” said Iverson.
“I’ve always felt that whether these guys know it or not, kids watch them and want to be like them and today was the greatest thing for basketball,” Brown said. “There were so many lessons to be learned, from him in what he’s accomplished.”
6. IVERSON’s REEBOK SIGNATURE SHOE LINE
When Reebok combined with Allen Iverson, the world sat back and watched as one of the first superstar players (outside of Michael Jordan) to enjoy a thriving shoe line. Way before the LeBrons, the KDs and more, Iverson strutted in multiple colorways that kept feeding Reebok’s pockets as shoes flew from shelves.
Though numerous individuals had to convince executives at Reebok that Iverson would be the future of the NBA when he was a freshman from Georgetown, they dropped his first sneaker, the Question, shortly after he donned a Sixers jersey.
The line, which has gained more popularity with the rebirth of Reebok and their new ambassadors, features multiple new sets of retro Iverson-styled sneakers. Even in 2013, Reebok is prepping for more sneaker releases as well as continuing their joint venture with the former guard.
Iverson’s line was so iconic, that our friends at Complex even put together his 20 best retro sneakers. I mean seriously, besides Jordans what line has been greater than this since the late ’90s?
5. THE ANSWER WINS 2001 MVP AWARD
When he entered the NBA in 1996 as the first overall pick for the Sixers, there were some thoughts that he would be a star. After averaging over 20 points his first four seasons in Philly, Iverson won the MVP award in 2001.
The moment became iconic when Larry Brown, who didn’t always see eye-to-eye with Iverson at times, sat on his player’s lap, jumped into his arms and embraced him, putting his glory beyond the team’s for once. Something no one foresaw a year prior: Brown was now referring to AI as a great teammate, gushing that he felt like a proud father after watching him develop. Iverson became the first Sixer since Moses Malone in the 1982-1983 season to win the coveted award
4. IVERSON SAYS F— A DRESS CODE
Outside of the scoring titles and him talking trash to Dennis Rodman and Marcus Camby, Iverson remained who he was for his entire career. He ushered in an era of baggy clothes, tattoos and cornrows.
Because of the way he dressed (usually like a late ’90s rappers), David Stern decided to change the dress code policy for NBA players in 2005. Yes, this meant no more du-rags, icy chains and golden brown Timberland boots. But that wasn’t going to stop Iverson’s tenacious and slightly Napoleon Syndrome-induced attitude. In fact, it was going to fuel it.
He once said, “They’re targeting guys who dress like me — guys who dress hip-hop. Put a murderer in a suit, and he’s still a murderer. It sends a bad message to kids.”
Though some might like players to go back to the days of white Ts and chains, Iverson will still embrace his lifestyle. If anything, you gotta love him for being him.
3. IVERSON STEPS OVER TYRONN LUE
Many people forget the little details surrounding this game with the Lakers. Before Tyronn Lue even stepped foot in the game, The Answer had already given the Lakers 30 first-half buckets and the Lakers were getting crushed (at least by their standards). To give credit to Lue, he shut Iverson down for the most part, which made for a mediocre second-half effort from the club’s star shooting guard. But that’s not what we’re here to remember.
What everyone and their grandma do remember is that Lue was playing tight defense and Iverson sonned him with a crossover and a step-back 20-foot jumper. Then to add insult to injury (because only someone like Iverson would do this) he steps over Lue and mocks the Lakers bench as he struts down court.
He did this in Los Angeles. He did this in the playoffs. He gave Philadelphians hope that the big bad Lakers could be defeated because Iverson told one of their better defenders to literally sit down. My ankles hurt every time I watch that video.
2. A.I. TAKES DOWN 2 G.O.A.T.S
If Allen Iverson was good at anything, it was making doubters into believers. The 6-0 ,165-pounder embarrassed two of the NBA’s greatest studs, one the offensive dynamite of a generation and another one of the greatest defenders to ever live.
In January 2001, (arguably Iverson’s best season and Payton was 32 at the time) Iverson decided to give Gary Payton a lesson in scoring. He found an Answer to the Glove’s defensive prowess and dropped 41 on Payton at home. Though Payton was 32, ask yourself: would you really want the Glove to guard you… ever? Iverson scored at will and Payton looked older on every drive and finish.
A few years earlier in March of 1997, the Bulls came to town and late in the game, Iverson got matched up against His Airness, Michael Jordan. Iverson dribbled around the top of the key, walked Jordan down to around 18 feet and went to work.
He hit him with a small fake that made Jordan commit left and then attacked with another slashing crossover that brought him to Iverson’s opposite side. He would hit the 18-footer and this would remain one of the most iconic moments not only in his history, but also the history of the Sixers and the NBA. Jordan, arguably the greatest player ever, looked vulnerable.
Iverson recounted the moment in an interview: “I gave him a little cross to see if he would bite on it, I let him set his feet and then stepped it back again. I wanted the opportunity to play against the top guys.”
1. “PRACTICE? We TALKIN’ ‘BOUT PRACTICE?”
Allen Iverson will always be remembered for what happened in a press conference on May 7, 2002.
After getting dismissed by the Boston Celtics in the postseason, Iverson went off. In a half-hour conference, he rambled, cursed and continuously used the word “practice” whenever he could. Media constantly criticized Iverson for his bad media habits, showing up late and his frequent nonchalance when it came to basketball. Iverson let them know exactly how he felt. Dressed in a mere white t-shirt and an oversized Red Sox ball cap, he just repeated the same sentiment.
“We talkin’ bout practice, not a game, we talkin’ bout practice, how silly is that? … How in the hell am I supposed to make my teammates better by practicing?”
Nine years later, the clip is still relevant in pop culture and media. It’s still a popular sound bite on radio shows and athletes and actors alike coin the term to show the love for the player and wit for the situation.
Though Iverson had his bad moments when it came to being a team player, his child support lawsuits and multiple children, he is still one of the most revered players to ever step on an NBA Hardwood. He’s one of the only players who could be out all night and still drop 50 points on your team’s head. He’ll always be one of the most prolific scores to ever play the sport. He will always wear a du-rag and baggy jeans better than anyone else.
At the end of the day, Allen Iverson is what he is: a baller, a staple, an icon. If he had been anything else, basketball wouldn’t be what it is today.
What do you think?
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