AP file photo
Allen Iverson is on the verge of announcing his retirement from the NBA. While Iverson has been apart from the league since the lockout a few years back, he is still one of the league’s most popular personalities.
In this blog let’s check out five of the best and not-so-best happenings of Iverson’s career.
5 - Bronze medal
I don’t know if this is famous or infamous but Iverson had a part in Team USA’s bronze medal finish in the 2004 Athens Olympics. Unquestionably the worst finish of an NBA team ever, Iverson did his best to lead a team composed of superstars Tim Duncan, Stephon Marbury, Shawn Marion, Amar’e Stoudemire, Lamar Odom, Richard Jefferson, Carlos Boozer and Emeka Okafor as well as three second-year players known to the world as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony. The lack of big-named NBA stars (they wanted to rest so they skipped the Olympics) sparked a revamp of the system that returned Team USA to where they are now. Iverson and Duncan would then crush all Team USA invitations.
4 - Non-champion
This is really not Iverson’s fault. How on earth is it possible for the Philadelphia 76ers to win with a team with a core that consists of Dikembe Mutombo, Eric Snow, Tyrone Hill, Matt Geiger, Theo Ratliff and Todd McCollough? While he can be forgiven for overachieving with the not-so-awesome Sixers squad, he had better teams when he switched to Denver and Detroit. He did have a Finals stint during the peak of the LA Lakers’ dynasty. But apart from the awesomeness that was the triumvirate of Phil Jackson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant… this happened.
3 - Tyronn Lue
How in the holy hell is this mediocre talent able to withstand The Answer? In some ways, the awesome defensive spirit he injected was the driving source for the Lakers’ advent against a player of his distinction. When your sole offensive weapon is getting eaten by a player Derek Fisher can outperform for the starting position, it’s not a pretty sight. Lue had a lot of stops to other teams but he’ll always be remembered as the guy to withstand Allen Iverson. It’s embarrassing for Iverson to get trounced by Lue and after the Sixers won Game 1 of the series, they lost the next four to hand the Lakers the title.
2 - Detroit’s diffuser
On November 3, 2008, Allen Iverson was traded to the Detroit Pistons for beloved player and one-time Finals MVP Chauncey Billups. Joe Dumars wanted a dominant scorer for the squad and Iverson fits the bill. What Dumars didn’t foresee was that the blue-collared squad’s chemistry deteriorated with the arrival of Iverson. It was so bad that then-Pistons head coach Michael Curry placed Iverson in an off the bench role that he seriously detested. In no time Iverson was out of Detroit and immediately the Pistons started their “lowly” era.
1 - Attitude problem
Iverson’s ill-advised rap album that critics saw as derogatory and discriminatory was sacked. His constant squabbles with his coaches were a cause for concern as well. Hell, David Stern even issued a dress code because he was such a badass (he wore ghetto bling and it made the suit even more stylish). Even if he is in his resentful mode, he is able to leave Memphis and his second coming the Philly high and dry. His moves triggered the bad reps of former scoring superstars that will never accept smaller roles. Because of Iverson, players like Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury, Baron Davis, and others tried unjustly that they will never accept bit parts (T-Mac, Carter, and Davis tried to brush off this notion but only Carter has stayed on one team). In short, this braided, tattooed phenomenon needs to be handled with care especially when he is the leader of a down and out franchise.
This is also the reason why his retirement is not a thing a beauty others thought it would be when he first entered the league in 1996.
5 – Pre-NBA success
Now I know I mentioned Iverson’s bronze medal. Duncan and Iverson were so pissed that they vowed to never represent United States basketball again. Well, 2004 was the second time they represented their country. In the 1995 Summer Universaide games held in Fukuoka, Japan – pre-NBA Iverson and Duncan won the gold medal defeating the Japanese basketball team represented by known names like Makoto Hasegawa (the guard with a thick goatee), Satoru Furuta, Kenichi Sako, Makoto Minamiyama (Japan’s version of Vince Hizon) and Jap-Am Michael (Maikeru)Takahashi. These were the guys the 1998 PBA Centennial Team battled a lot of times in their quest for Asian supremacy. Iverson’s teammates included Kerry Kittles, Austin Croshere, Chucky Atkins, Othella Harrington and Lorenzen Wright.
4 - 1996 NBA Draft’s Top Pick
Known to many for their superstar bigs (like Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, and Dikembe Mutombo), Georgetown’s Iverson became Philadelphia’s anointed one in the 1996 Draft. Now this draft proved to be one of the deepest with the likes of Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen, Peja Stojakovic, Jermaine O’Neal, and a couple of guys named Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. Before the selection of Iverson, getting point guards at that stage of the draft was considered as “a waste of resource”. While Magic Johnson is an exception (because he is 6’9 and can play multiple positions), this was also the reason why Portland picked Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan (although Portland was a little deep in that position with Jim Paxson and Clyde Drexler and Houston was seriously bent on claiming Hakeem Olajuwon), Derrick Coleman over Gary Payton, Glenn Robinson over Jason Kidd, and even Mike Olowokandi over second pick overall Mike Bibby.
3 - The double crossover
While Oscar Robertson has used this as a weapon during the 60s and Tim Hardaway revolutionized the killer crossover, it was Iverson who perfected the talent-insult move known to many as the Ankle Breaker. Countless athletes from Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant have been posterized with this move and his variations differentiate from the other things he had done as well. His speed and quickness in which he combines with his swagger makes him an unstoppable force despite his frame. His dribbling abilities free him of the defense that stands on his way.
2 - Scoring Champion
AI is considered as one of the best shooting guards to grace the NBA. While he barely skies, his bread and butter is bar none his ability to dictate the offensive pace without throwing any caution to the wind with regards to his well-being. He has a lengthy range offensively and a testimony to this is when he averaged 30+ points five times in his career. His scoring average ranks sixth all-time and his finals scoring average is just behind the outputs of Michael Jordan. On February 12, 2005, Iverson scored a career high 60 points against the Orlando Magic and in the 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Toronto Raptors, Iverson scored 50 or more twice (the Sixers would win the series in seven games to face the Milwuakee Bucks and eventually the Lakers).
1 - Most Valuable Player
AI is the shortest and lightest player to win the Most Valuable Player award. Standing six feet flat and weighing in at around 165 pounds, he is an inch lower and ten pounds lighter than “The Houdini of the Hardwood” Bob Cousy. Because of how is seriously awesome MVP season, The Answer received 93 of the possible 124 first place votes thus outlasting behemoths like San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, LA Lakers’ Shaquille O’Neal, Sacramento’s Chris Webber, and Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett. In the year the Sixers reached the NBA Finals and Iverson captured his first All-Star MVP plum, he averaged 31.1ppg, 3.8rpg, 4.6apg, and 2.5spg.
The retirement of Allen Iverson is sucky because with his accomplishments, being bankrupt and unwanted in the NBA are the last things he never expected to happen. But then again, he will always be remembered as the guy that never wanted to be the next Michael Jordan… but to be the first of him so that others will vary their styles to not get compared to him.
So what’s next for AI? It will be an insult to his legacy if Philly wouldn’t retire his number. But more than that, being an ambassador should take him off the financial misgivings he is currently suffering.
And the Hall of Fame… is well in sight.
When the entries of volume scoring point guards that are also first pick overalls like Derrick Rose, John Wall, and Kyrie Irving happened, you just can’t help but utter if who amongst these guys could be the “next Allen Iverson”.
Who from these guys will be the next scoring combo guard?
I don’t know if they wanted to be associated with being “The Next Answer”… but all we know is that there is one guy that paved the way for them.
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