Allen Ezail Iverson was the most polarizing player of our generation. Here we are in 2016, on his Hall-Of-Fame induction day and who knows what his speech is going to hold. The Virginia native changed the game, the story of basketball can’t be told without Allen Iverson.
Allen Iverson changed the game of basketball 🐐
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 8, 2016
On a personal note as a reflect on his career, I think how he changed the life of a white suburban kid playing basketball growing up. I remember a time I wore fake corn-rows to school with my Iverson jersey on. I can only imagine the looks I got that day from adults, god am I proud of that. One of the first books I read was Iverson’s biography, Only The Strong Survive, which he has tatted on his arm. I learned a lot of curses from that book, most of which I was too young to understand at 12-years-old. My generation loved Iverson, kids bought his signature Reebok kicks and wore the number 3 because of him. As the smallest man on the court we saw ourselves in the 76er legend.
Allen Iverson made the NBA implement a dress code that I’m now sure he’s ashamed at, with what some of the current players wear. His hip-hop influenced style on and off the court is what made Iverson special. The du-rags and baggy clothing coming to the game, along with the headband, arm sleeve and tattoos were sure to anger the older generation, as a face of the NBA. That’s the best part, he did not care what people thought about him, he was going to express himself how he felt was right.
The 11-time All-Star’s career features a few moments I’m sure to tell my own kids about, and will be broadcasted to generations way past my time on this earth. Crossing over Michael Jordan in his rookie year for one. How about his epic 2001 MVP season that culminated in an NBA finals trip against the Los Angeles Lakers, who entered the finals undefeated. Iverson finished game 1 with 48 points including a 3 pointer with just over a minute left in OT to put the Sixers up, followed by the infamous soul snatching step-over of Tyronn Lue after hitting a jump shot to extend their lead with under a minute left to steal game 1 in Los Angeles.
How about how the media twisted his words, which they often did to create a negative perception and an anti-Iverson narrative throughout the 4-time scoring champ’s career. This particular time at a 2002 presser, it created the “We talkin’ about practice man” soundbite that is still a pop-culture staple to this day.
Iverson is the greatest pound for pound player ever, the guy left it all on the floor every night. He was certainly worth the price of admission, a true hardwood hero.
“I wanted to look in the mirror and say I did it my way.” – Allen Iverson
I think it’s safe to say you did things your own way, and it damn sure wasn’t the easy way. You left the game a better place. Synonymous with Philadelphia and the number 3, A.I will always have a special place within the hearts of fans.
As you are inducted to the Hall-Of-Fame tonight, I just want to say thank you Allen for everything you did in your career, it has been an honor to watch you play throughout my childhood. Congrats to Allen Iverson the HALL-OF-FAMER!