“The Answer,” Allen Iverson. Iverson was The Answer to my childhood. I have been fortunate enough to grow up in the Philadelphia area for my entire life. During that time, I fell in love with Iverson, whom I believe was the best scorer of his era.
The Early Years
Allen Iverson was drafted with the first overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft to a struggling 76ers team that had no direction. His rookie year, he averaged 23.5 points per game and was the unanimous decision for the 1996 Rookie of the Year Award. Iverson eventually led the Sixers to the playoffs in a lockout shortened season in 1998-1999. After an upset of the Tracy McGrady led Magic, Philadelphia eventually lost to a stellar Indiana Pacers team in the second round. This was all a learning experience for Iverson as this would help guide him into the legacy he would eventually create. Although I don’t have much recollection of Iverson before 1999, stories from my family told me that he was the face of the Sixers from the time he stepped onto the floor for his first game. It reminds me of someone who is just getting his career started in Minnesota.
This iconic shot by Allen Iverson over Tyronn Lue in the 2001 NBA Finals is just one small example as to why he’s my favorite basketball player of all-time. Iverson made his first All-Star Game in 2000 and that led to 11 straight appearances from him including an MVP performance in 2001. 2001 was a year to remember for Iverson. He was named the NBA’s MVP, All-Star Game MVP, won the scoring title, and went to his first, and only, NBA Finals. I remember going to many Sixers games with my family during Iverson’s reign in Philly. The then Wachovia Center, was a true homecourt advantage in Eastern Conference match-ups. Iverson ended up leading the league in scoring four times throughout his career and it seemed like he was in that race every year he was in Philadelphia. Iverson eventually moved elsewhere, as he was traded to the Denver Nuggets where he had two successful seasons. Iverson went on to play for other teams as well, where his role would greatly diminish. It eventually led to him retiring as a 76er, which he will always be remembered as. Allen Iverson may have been the reason why I love the NBA so much today. He is a Philadelphia sports legend, and is a name that will never be forgotten.
Allen Iverson carried a sense of ‘swagger’ when he came into the NBA. Plenty of NBA stars have said they now wear a sleeve on their arm because “Iverson wore it,” or something of that nature. Iverson was the face of Reebok during his era as well. He showed his ‘swagger’ through his shoe which was revolutionary with its use of zippers and a sleek design. The shoes pictured below are the Reebok Answer IV’s. Remember those?
I think Allen Iverson just revolutionized the game of basketball. He carried so much toughness and killer mentality for a guy who was only 6’0. I guess that’s why he is so respected around the league. Love him, hate him, or something in between, I’ll always have an affinity for Allen Iverson, the man who introduced me to the game I love so dearly.