Perennial all star, NBA lightning rod, Reebok reviver, little man with big heart. Allen Iverson is one of the most influential ballers to hit the floor. The type of player you see in a pick up game who laces it up from 2pm to 7pm on the unforgiving street courts. The type of player who took what many considered a selfish style and transformed it into a accomplished career. Iverson’s greatness does not come by way of Larry O’Brien trophies but by being the first to take a street style and make it successful on the hardwood.
Stepping over Tyron Lue, diving for loose balls, leading the East All Stars to a victory in 2001, AI endeared us with all that he was. While Kobe is booed voraciously in his hometown of Philadelphia, Iverson is lauded and praised despite his array of off court issues and unceremonious end to his career. And when it comes to the shoes, Iverson’s lifetime Reebok deal broke records at 10 million per year in his prime. If you want to see Lebron James not wearing that Nike symbol you’re going to have to go back to his high school days where he donned the Questions, a staple of urban high school students wardrobe in the early 2000s.
Perhaps the greatest ironic twist in Iverson’s career occurred during his days on the Denver Nuggets. As Carmelo Anthony’s teammate he came face to face with a talent who idolized the Answer but that idolatry quickly subsided resulting in a lack of chemistry on the court. While Carmelo may have respected Iverson’s style enough to emulate his braids and sleeves it was not enough to respect his aging game.
Years from now many of the NBA fans of the post Jordan era will undoubtedly find themselves defending Iverson’s style of play as time atrophies his accomplishments. And it wont be easy to make the case. For the most part Allen Iverson is remembered as the “we talking bout practice” guy. While Iverson was beyond fun to watch his greatest achievement was staving off one of the best teams ever with an upstart superstar and all time dominant big man for only one game.
As a huge fan of Iverson I know he is not one of the best to ever come thru the league but most certainly one of the most popular ever. Iverson was never able to take his game to the champion level but to this day is beloved. While being beloved Iverson also finds himself being pitied for his current financial struggles. Most seem exaggerated but one can not deny that this basketball icon has fallen. One question that is to be thought over is how will time treat Iversons legacy. Will he be the trendsetting scorer who packed arenas or the sad tale of a player whose lost millions?
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