From the moment he set foot inside the city of Philadelphia, Allen Iverson began to ink a legacy that would last a lifetime. One of the most exciting players in NBA history, Iverson’s impact on the sport and culture would be felt long after he hung up his Reebok-branded trainers.
Standing at barely 6-feet tall, Iverson was pound-for-pound one of the toughest players to ever take to the hardwood. Every night he would do something that would take your breath away. Every night he would get hit with the hardest blows from the biggest people, and every time he would pick himself up; dust himself off and come back harder the next play.
With the rise of analytics and social media, Iverson’s achievements and career has somewhat been forgotten or reduced. Sure, he wasn’t the most efficient scorer, and sure, he never won an NBA Championship. But few players put up the raw numbers the player dubbed ‘The Answer’ did. He led the league in scoring four times; won one MVP, was named to the All-NBA first team three times amongst many other individual awards.
His impact can still be seen today. You see the sleeves players like Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant wear? Iverson started that trend. Players being covered up and down with tattoos? Yeah, you can put that one down to AI too. He took heat for not conforming to the clean-cut image of athletes. Now, it’s the norm. Iverson was a trendsetter. A cultural icon.
His watchability was off-the-scale. It doesn’t matter what night you went to watch AI; you were getting a show. He could drop 50 on any given night. Iverson would attack at every opportunity. He was fearless. Who can forget him crossing over Michael Jordan before nailing a jumper?
Iverson influenced a generation of players, fans and writers. He won over Philadelphia – a city notorious for being hard to please – and his popularity in the city can still be seen today. Allen Iverson will be remembered for a lot of things. He’s changed so much and is one of the most important and unique athletes ever to participate in sport. But the most admirable thing about the 6’0” guard out of Georgetown was that he did it on his terms. He was himself. The whole way. And I bet if you asked him if he would do anything different, he would say no. That’s just the type of guy he was.