On Wednesday October 30, 2013 the game of basketball saw one of its most prolific players of all time call it quits. Allen Iverson officially announced his retirement from the game of basketball.
The “Answer” played 14 professional seasons before deciding to hang up his Reeboks for good. The last time he played was during the 2010-2011 season over in Turkey. He was offered a contract in the NBA developmental league, but he declined that. Unfortunately for Iverson and fans of basketball, that would be the last shot.
The Number One overall selection of the 1996 NBA draft out of Georgetown University enjoyed great success while in the NBA. Iverson was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers and won Rookie of the Year by averaging 23.5 points per game, 7.1 assists per game and 2.1 steals per game. Winning Rookie of the Year wasn’t the most memorable part of his rookie season, he also crossed-over arguably the best player in NBA history in Michael Jordan.
The crossover is a move that Iverson helped revolutionize due to his size and quickness. He stood at six-foot tall and weighed a buck-65. That didn’t stop Iverson from becoming one of the most exciting and tenacious players the league has ever seen.
He won the scoring title not once, but four times over the course of his career. Iverson had a career average of 26.7 points per game in the regular season which ranks sixth all-time. His career average in postseason play was 29.7 points, second to only Michael Jordan. The best season of his career came in the 2000-2001season, when he would go on to win the league’s Most Valuable Player award.
During that MVP campaign, Iverson averaged 31.1 points per game, locking up his second of four scoring titles. He became the shortest and lightest MVP in NBA history. The Sixers enjoyed great success that season, finishing the regular season with a record of 56-26. Iverson would help Philadelphia reach its first NBA Finals since 1983. In that playoff run, the Sixers defeated the Indiana Pacers in the first round before defeating the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks in the next two series, both going seven games. Next up for the Sixers was the reigning, defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, who were unbeaten in the postseason heading into the finals.
The Lakers were heavy favorites going into the matchup, but Iverson wasn’t having that in Game 1. Philadelphia would hand Los Angeles its first loss of the postseason behind Iverson’s electrifying 48 points. In the game, another infamous Iverson move occurred. After crossing up Laker guard Tyronn Lue and hitting a jump shot, Iverson proceeded to stare at Lue as he stepped over him. The Lakers would go on to win the next four games of the series, winning its second of three straight NBA championships, but that wasn’t to the fault of Iverson. He averaged 35.6 points per game in the finals.
The next postseason was the start of the unraveling of the Larry Brown era in Philadelphia. Iverson and the Sixers were plagued by injuries the season after going to the finals. After a first round exit at the hands of the Boston Celtics, Brown criticized Iverson for missing practices, which led to arguably Iverson’s most known, off the court moment. When meeting with reporters and asked about missing practice, he replied by saying “Practice?! We in here talking about practice?!” He would say the word “practice” over 20 times.
When Brown left after the 2003 season, the 76ers were left looking for a replacement. Unfortunately for the team, it could not find a coach that was capable of getting along with Iverson and leading the team back to the playoffs. After going through two coaches, Philadelphia found itself back in the playoffs. Iverson, who lacked a strong supporting cast most of his career, was paired up with All-Star forward Chris Webber and first round draft pick, Andre Iguodala. Iverson went on to win his fourth and final scoring title that season. Iverson and the Sixers ran into former coach Larry Brown and his new team, the eventual NBA champion Detroit Pistons. Philadelphia would win one game in that series and Iverson scored 37 points and recorded 15 assists in that game.
The backend of Iverson’s career would come in December of the 2006 season when he was traded from Philadelphia to the Denver Nuggets for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and two first-round draft picks. Iverson was paired up with up and coming star Carmelo Anthony. Nearly two years later Iverson was traded once again, this time to the Pistons. On September 10, 2009, Iverson signed a one-year contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. Iverson would only play three games for Memphis and the team cut him on November 16. He wound up back in Philadelphia later that season, playing in 25 games before the end came. He then went to Turkey to try and prolong his career, but that was limited to just 10 games, ending his playing career.
Iverson was the innovator of wearing headbands, shooting sleeves, and even finger sleeves. In press conferences he would usually dress in baggy clothes, throwback jerseys and fitted caps.
LeBron James recently came out and said that Iverson was “the pound for pound best to ever play this game” alluding to his size. Iverson is considered on the league’s most exciting and best players to ever play. Pound for pound, is Allen Iverson the best to ever play?