The news is kind of stunning — only because A.I. hasn’t played an NBA game since 2010, so most people just assumed he retired already.
Allen Iverson’s troubles over the years have been well publicized.
But we’re not here to focus on that. We’re here to talk about the good.
And Allen Iverson was one of the greatest, most important players to ever play in the NBA.
A fact that will be cemented when he enters the NBA Hall of Fame as a Philadelphia 76er years from now.
To honor the god, here’s The 10 Reasons Why Allen Iverson was one of the most important NBA players ever:
He was awesome from the jump
In 1996, Allen Iverson was drafted number one overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. At the time, Iverson was listed at 6 ft 0, making him the shortest number one pick in the history of the league.
Iverson impressed from the jump: he averaged 23.5 points, 7.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game, making him an easy pick for rookie of the year.
A highlight for the young player came when he scored 50 points against the terrible Cleveland Cavaliers. (Yes, the Cavs were shit even back then).
He brought a new attitude to the league
The year Allen Iverson came into the league, another era was on its way out. Standout players from the early ’90s like Michael Jordan (duh), Scottie Pippin, Penny Hardaway and Charles Barkley were aging and clearly on their last leg. This left room for the Kevin Garnetts, Kobe Bryants and the Allen Iversons of the world to leave their mark.
Allen Iverson stood out from the pack of new blood because there was nothing square about him. He was hip, cool and street. And A.I. brought a playground aspect that was missing from professional basketball before he entered the league.
And when we say playground, we mean the crossover.
And speaking of crossover…
He did this to Michael Jordan
Crazy, right, MJ?
He wasn’t the worst rapper in the world
No. The title of worst rapper will always go to Kobe Bryant and his “Thug Poetry.” In retrospect, Allen Iverson was somewhat decent when it came to rapping.
When Allen dropped “40 Bars,” back in 2001, there was a lot of controversy because, on the song, he was killing people and spitting misogynist raps.
But, whatever. We find Kobe’s collaboration with Tyra Banks much more offensive.
Iverson wasn’t afraid to go at Nike’s neck
Nike has basically had a strangle on the sneaker market since the Jordan 1s in the mid ’80s. But, man, Allen Iverson and Reebok gave Nike a run for their money for a while. Instead of signing with Nike after he turned pro, Iverson signed a massive 10 year $50 million dollar contract with Reebok, giving life to the struggling shoe company.
Iverson’s The Question shoe and series of The Answer sneakers were some of the most popular shoes of the late ’90s and early 2000s.
Allen Iverson and Reebok had some of the most epic commercials of all time
He had the greatest sports rant of all time (are we really talking about “practice?”)
(FYI: There’s a great J Live and DJ Jazzy Jeff song that samples the rant.)
He dragged one of the worst teams ever to the NBA finals
Take a look at the lineup for the 2001-2002 Philadelphia 76ers: It’s JUNK.
Allen Iverson was one of the toughest guys to ever step on a court
At 6 feet, and weighing only like 165 pounds, A.I. was a mouse among giants. But that never stopped him from constantly driving to the rim, often against players that weighed double what he weighed.
As a little person, Iverson would finish his career with averages of 26.7 points, 6.2 assists and 2.2 steals.
Allen Iverson never changed
It’s a shame, too: because A.I.’s stubbornness might be the reason why he hasn’t been able to play on an NBA team in years. Even though his skills have eroded over the years, Iverson felt like he needed to be the alpha dog, holding the ball for most of the clock and taking most of the shots. If he would have just been able to conform a little bit, he could have found a role on some team — he still had the skills late in his career to be an excellent number two.
It never happened though. But, like we said in the beginning: let’s not focus on the bad. Let’s just talk about the good.
A.I. was a true original.