Allen Iverson (a.k.a. “The Answer”) wasn’t just a good basketball player — he was a complete baller through his ability to get to the rim and how he could shoot over everyone with his classic fadeaway shot.
Iverson graduated from Georgetown University in 1996 and declared for the NBA Draft. NBA analysts were unsure at first about who was going to pick him up, but then began to realize his talent and started projecting him to go early. The Philadelphia 76ers used their 1st pick overall to draft Iverson — making him the shortest first pick at 6’0″ in NBA Draft history. To give some perspective, that year’s draft was full of talented guards that were picked after Iverson: Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, and Steve Nash.
The Iverson-Sixers Era:
Allen Iverson really turned up the heat as soon as he got in the NBA. For nine years, the lowest average amount of playing time for Iverson a season was 39.4 minutes! This is pretty insane, Iverson formed his game to play for long periods of time — where the largest average for time played in a game with the Sixers was 43.7 minutes!
Not only that, but Allen Iverson also put up insane offensive numbers while he played in Philly. Out of nine seasons, four of them he averaged over 30 points a game.
Defensively, Iverson was relentless. From 2001-2003, he averaged over 2.5 steals a game (2.5, 2.8, 2.7).
In 2001, Iverson and the Sixers made it to the NBA Finals — where they had to face off Shaq and Kobe on the Lakers. Below is a video highlight from this game — and yes, that is the ex Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyron Lue in his gold jersey:
The Sixers did not win the Finals that year, but that didn’t stop Iverson from having fun smoking guys like he did to Tyron Lue.
Iverson went on to play for the Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, and the Memphis Grizzlies but his legacy will forever stay with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Throughout all of these teams, Allen Iverson played very similarly to how Kawhi Leonard plays today. Fadeaway jump shots are an audience favorite — and also happen to be their specialty. The ball handling of Iverson was also one of the best in the league which really helped while he was placed at the point guard position.
Many players that are 6′ (in a league dominated by players who are 7′) have shown a lack confidence, which is a breeding ground for turnovers. However Iverson, despite his height, owned the moment whenever he stepped onto the court. Because of this, he was an NBA All-Star eleven times and was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2001.
Like most athletes reaching the end of their career, Iverson had some struggles. It’s always hard to earn a team’s trust because it takes so long for them to get used to each athlete’s style of play — which at this point Iverson didn’t have because he kept on getting traded. I mean the man went through six team changes in his last two seasons. It would be excruciatingly difficult for anyone to get comfortable playing and build a team’s trust with that much movement.
The part that I would like to highlight most is that I believe Iverson to be one of the best ever to walk the court because he was an excellent two-way player and the fact that he was an absolute slasher to the rim and great defensive skills.
Iverson will forever be known by many because of his incredibly impressive fadeaway jump shot, but he will be less-credited for the affirmation that he deserves from bringing the hustle day in and day out. As Iverson once said,
“…a lot of times, you know, I get tired of defending myself.” (basketball pun)
Photo Credit:By Steve Lipofsky http://www.basketballphoto.com/NBA_Basketball_Photographs.htm – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41413654
By Kevin Burkett – originally posted to Flickr as Allen Iverson and the Sixers, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8798049
My Source:By Kevin Burkett – originally posted to Flickr as Allen Iverson and the Sixers, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8798049