SLAMonline reports that Allen Iverson will officially announce his retirement from the National Basketball Association within the coming days. Iverson was arguably the game’s most influential player on and off. His impact on the sport was grand. He brought streetball and all it encompassed to the NBA. His patent move, the crossover, was eventually ruled illegal by the evil dictator David Stern. The argument was that it was a carry or a case of palming. Some will remember A.I. for his brilliance on the court, or perhaps his passion for practice, or maybe his desire to live out his rap fantasies. Whatever the case, just know this, there would be no Dwayne Wade, no Derrick Rose, and no Rajon Rondo if it wasn’t for him, he was, The Answer.
Here’s a brief timeline of some of his most memorable moments.
1994: 1994 ‘Kenner League’ Pre-Georgetown: Iverson wearing his traditional number 3 can be seen taking opponents off the dribble, breaking away for open dunks, and pulling up three’s from well beyond the arc. Iverson made summer league competition against some of the nation’s best look like intramural players.
1995: As a sophomore at Georgetown University, Iverson wowed the nation in a 40 point explosion versus Arizona in the 1995 pre-season NIT championship game. While G-Town eventually lost, A.I. showed more of what the future would hold for NBA players. Besides smooth jumpers, baseline reverse dunks, Iverson crossed future NBA champion Jason Terry over. It wasn’t the first A.I. crossover, absolutely would not be the last, but it made a college-aged Terry look like the defender he is now.
1996: He was known for breaking ankles but records were not safe around Iverson either. In the 1996 NBA season, Iverson broke a scoring record for rookies that was held for years by Wilt Chamberlain. Up until that time, no rookie has more than three 40+ point games consecutively. Not without flare, Iverson put his name atop the record books in typical A.I. fashion, by torching the Cleveland Cavaliers for 50 points.
1997: Iverson was the Schick Rookie Game MVP in 1997. The rookie game carried more meaning then than it does now as competition was fierce and bragging rights were on the line. This doesn’t mean that the game was without highlights though, in particular a break-away alleyoop from center Marcus Camby to PG Allen Iverson.
Also in his rookie year, Iverson performed his legendary cross-over on the invincible Michael Jordan. When speaking of devastating moves, the crossover is at the top of the list, but to cross MJ? Well, that’s something that will have you living in infamy.
1999: While his ability to score at will and drive the lane without fear were often the reasons he appeared in highlight reels, Iverson was a notorious defender as well. His quick feet, fast hands, and uncanny ability to anticipate made him a lethal defender, reinforced by his 10 steals versus the Orlando Magic, a NBA playoff record.
2000: Playing in his first All-Star game, yes you read that correctly, The Answer scored 26 and dished out 9 dimes but did not take home the MVP. The NBA would never admit it, but Iverson was vilified early on in his career. Stern did not like his criminal past, his reputation for hanging with the wrong crowd, or that he symbolized the urban street-baller image. With his popularity growing amongst a wide-range of demographics, the fans finally had their way and Iverson earned the recognition he deserved.
Allen Iverson won the NBA MVP that season, averaging 31.1 points / 4.6 assists / 3.8 rebounds / 2.5 steals. He led the Sixers an Eastern Conference Championship.
2001: Playing in his first and only NBA Finals series, A.I. and the Philadelphia 76ers shocked the world by handing Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers a game 1 loss. Iverson did his part to say the least, by contributing 48! Unfortunately that would be the only game they won, as the “Iverson Five” were overmatched.
2002: Taking on Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics, Iverson claimed another record dropping 47, the most ever scored in the Boston Fleet Center. *welp for us Celtics fans
2003: You kind of get the feeling Iverson likes records at this point so why not another one? 55 points for a Sixers playoff record which arguably cemented his title as the greatest Sixer ever. Being acknowledged as the franchise’s best is really saying something when looking at the legendary players who have put on that jersey such as Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, and the “Round Mound of Rebound” Charles Barkley.
*side note: since I’ve never seen the result of that play involving Erving, I like to think that the greatest player ever, Larry Bird, blocked that dunk!
2004: In an exhibition game with team USA versus Germany, Iverson hit the first buzzerbeater of his career, an all net 40 foot 3-pointer as time expired.
2005: For the second time in his career, he took home the All Star Game MVP. He led the Eastern Conference All Stars to a 111-110 victory with his 15 point / 10 assist / 5 steal performance.
2007: The 06-07 season was his last in a Philly uniform, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t go out with style. He kept treating Philadelphia fans to the type of play that they became accustomed to, cooling off D-Wade and the Heat in Miami by raining buckets! Add another 40+ point game to the Legend of A.I.
2008: He returned to his professional home, the only one he had known of until this year, this time in the light blue-yellow uniform of the Denver Nuggets. The emphasis here was not on stats or records, it was a homecoming unlike any other.
2013: I’ll fast forward to this year, skipping the Detroit Pistons era, the flashes of brilliance that come less consistently, and media taking their shots at will. This recently released video, while not against NBA competition, shows Iverson could still be a contributor. The shot creating ability is still there, while it may not be in the same manner, it still exists. Selfishly I don’t want to hear about A.I. being done, as I always dreamed of him in a Celtics uniform and was teased by rumors for the past few years. This may be Iverson now but if it was up to me, everyone would remember him the way I do, as the most electrifying player ever to step foot on a basketball court.
Allen Iverson, NBA, basketball