Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Reflection On The Career Of Allen Iverson

The last few days have been rough for me as a basketball fan. Its always a hard day when the guy you grew up wanting to be just like on a basketball court retires but that day has finally came for me. Sources are reporting that the 11 time all-star and 4 time scoring champion Allen Iverson will finally retire from the game of basketball after all of these years. Some people love him and some people hate him but AI is one of the greatest point guards to ever step on the hardwood and the proof is in the pudding on and off the court.

A New Era

Allen Iverson was different but he brought in a whole new culture to basketball as the NBA was preparing for the Post-Jordan era. The Doo-rags, Tattoos and fitted caps where all authentic to who Allen was as a person he was himself and never changed that throughout the course of his entire career. This sometimes benefited him and hurt him but he was always entreating  in the process. The Hip-Hop era in the NBA was really brought to the forefront when Allen Iverson was a marquee player in the league. His influence was and is still huge to this day.

As the NBA was preparing for the post-MJ era it was looking for a new face of the league and although it had Kobe Bryant the real hero or the guy who many people that come from a background of low income and poverty could relate to was Allen Iverson. He brought the hood to the hardwood and was proud of who he was that's why in that era of  hip-hop culture Allen Iverson Sixers jerseys were popular because of who he was as a person and the kind of player he was on the court. Iverson's jersey along with his Reebok "The Questions" Sneaker were wildly successful and still are to this day. Recently Reebok has re released the popular shoe and it has seen a great response from the sneaker world and shoe lovers worldwide. Iverson is To Reebok what Jordan is to the Air Jordan brand.

Little Big Man

Allen Iverson is listed generously at 6 feet tall and 165 pounds and is the greatest undersized guard of all-time along with Isiah Thomas. I once heard someone say the following about AI "Take Michael Jordan's greatest moves and speed them up and you have Allen Iverson". Allen Iverson played the game fearlessly and it demands respect. Taking on guys who are a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier then him Iverson played the game his way and that was with no fear and if need be at the rim. This attitude allowed him to score 24,369 points with a 26.7 scoring average on his career. Iverson made big baskets and made a living putting the Sixers on his back.

We all know Iverson is one of the greatest performers ever but very few people know that he is 2nd all-time in playoff scoring average in the history of the NBA only behind Michael Jordan averaging 29.7 points per game. He put Philly on his back in the most important games.Iverson played with heart and would make bigger guys look like they shouldn't be on the same floor. Like take for example in a playoff series against the Toronto Raptors and the much bigger more athletic Vince Carter in 2001. Iverson had 2 games of 50+ points with his 54 points in game 2 and 52 points in game 5. Allen was little no doubt about that but he was also something else- The MVP of the league.

The Problems

A.I's career comes with a lot of glory but a lot of problems as well, many of them self-inflicted. Allen was never a "pure point guard" but many basketball purists knocked him for that over the years calling him selfish and not a team player. There was the infamous "Practice" press conference in which he looked like a complete buffoon and totally selfish. Allen had his fans but equally had his detractors.

Then there was his relationship with head coach Larry Brown. For many years they couldn't see eye to eye because Allen hated practice. When they finally found some common ground they helped turn the Sixers into a playoff team and eventually reached the finals in 2001 with an eventual loss to the Shaq & Kobe Lakers. Some say had Allen not been so hard headed that his career would have looked better but Allen was Allen and he wasn't changing for nobody.

The Decline

Allen Iverson's scoring average was 26.7 points per game in the regular season. The end of his career kept that number from being higher with his stops in Denver, Detroit and Memphis. Seeing Allen anywhere but Philly was weird and all the seasons he had averaging less then 20 points hurt his average but he just didn't fit in on any of those teams.

It was sad to see how no NBA franchise in the latter part of Iverson's career wanted to give him a shot. Some of that is due in part to AI's ego not wanting to come off the bench and declined numerous offers in China and D-League where he could have proven himself to NBA GM's. No matter how you spin it the end of his career is just sad, you never want to see a guy of his stature go out that way.

The Legacy

Allen Iverson's career left much to be desired in terms of his championship success. He never captured an NBA title and its a down right travesty but nobody will ever say that he didn't deserve it. Iverson is a 1st ballot hall of famer whether you like him or not its not even a question. The only Point guard that is better then him at his size is maybe Isiah Thomas but besides that A.I is the best undersized point guard to ever play the game of basketball.


  1. It seems like in the last few years people have forgotten how great Iverson was. He should be remembered for his contribution to the game, and the fact that he helped usher in the next generation after Jordan retired. Today, there a lot of instances where guys don't even play their hardest on the court, and Iverson's heart is a great example for them to follow. First ballot HOFer without question. Great piece!

    1. Thank you for reading. I wish Iverson got more respect from the media, he earned it every time he stepped on the hardwood.


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