What HAPPENED to Allen iverson?
When I got the word that Allen Iverson wasn’t returning to the 76er’s. At first I was thinking that this cat had alot of nerve considering that the 76er’s organization has paid so much money for this guy to return. Iverson’s latest stunt and refusal to play in the NBA maybe a bigger fight than many people are really looking into. Between the fame, the grueling NBA schedules, unwanted media attention, and pressure to keep your position as the top guard of the NBA may have been too overwhelming for Allen. Maybe its a control issue that the NBA wanted to do with his image. But whatever happened It’s really stained Iverson’s legacy.
I remember when Iverson first entered the league, He was a star that the NBA didn’t want to market but they had no choice because Iverson within a short year had developed such a cult following. He brought the street hip hop aspect into the NBA which was at the time a breath of fresh air. The league image wise was tamed due to the fact that everybody were typical suit and tie puppets. Being that he had prior legal troubles(That 1993 bowling alley incident). The league were already skeptical of marketing him because they feared that his background would hurt their image.
There were people like Dennis Rodman that forever remained as a thorn in David Stern’s ass due to the fact that he did what he wanted to do, He colored his hair, he brought tattoos into the mix along with a very unpredictable demeanor that made his coaches furious. Rodman while a headache in his right to the league wasn’t as much of a serious threat or had the cult following as Iverson had coming to the league. Iverson had what Rodman didn’t have and that was the young black youth behind him.
But what also made Allen standout from his thuggish image was the fact that this dude was a magnificent basketball player. After being selected as a 1st overall Draft Pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. He knew he had a point to prove that he can take a franchise that didn’t have nothing for several years since Charles Barkley left for the Suns to the top of the mountain once again. Iverson became the face of Philadelphia sports and within two short years took the 76ers in the Playoffs in the 98-99 season. He even earned the respect of his peers when he crossed up the god of Basketball Michael Jordan in one of the sickest crossovers ever seen:
The state of Philadelphia have always admired underdogs. Going back to the days where Sylvester Stallone created the character Rocky Balboa which was based on a Philadelphia lucky club fighter that was down on his luck and looking for a opportunity or a big break. Balboa’s character is similar to Iverson in a lot of ways. They both come from sordid backgrounds, They both weren’t as big, strong, or didn’t have the money as many of their peers. But what made Iverson so admirable was his heart and determination to win. Iverson often played injured, He often carried the Sixers on his back when they were having an off night and the hard work paid off as he would for the 2000-2001 season lead the Sixers to having the best record in the East Coast Conference.
Iverson had already signed one of the biggest contracts in the NBA. The 6 year deal worth 70 million dollar contract extension was a huge gamble the Sixer made and they had huge confidence in Iverson to put their team back on the forefront as a contender. The gamble proved to be worth it as he would not only carry the Sixers to the best record in the East(As I previously mentioned) but he took the team on a trip to the NBA Finals against the defending Champs The Los Angeles Lakers. The Sixer’s haven’t been to the NBA finals for close to 20 years so this proved to be a major accomplishment and the Sixers were even confident that they can defeat the defending champs.
This wasn’t gonna be no walk in the park. The Lakers were so dominant through the post season that it was doubtful anyone could stop them. Shaquille ONeal had proven to be the most dominant and intimidating center in the NBA at the time. Kobe Bryant was coming through as the Laker’s scoring assassin and was on the verge of becoming the next Michael Jordan in many people’s eyes along with possibly the best supporting cast in the league. The Lakers had already laid waste to the Blazers, Kings, and the Spurs on the path to the finals so they were assuming that this would be a walk in the park. Many people were calling for an easy sweep: That is until Iverson proved otherwise as he would have the best game of his career:
The Lakers obviously had the Sixers outmatched in every category when it came to size and coaching. But Iverson proved that he had the courage, the heart, and the burning desire to win. game. With the first two games taking place in Los Angeles. Iverson knew he had to bring his A game and he did so by dropping 48 points and defeating the Lakers shockingly on their own home court at 107-101 in a thrilling overtime game. This game was so amazing and would be the peak of Iverson’s career. But the Laker’s experience, strength, endurance proved to be too much for Iverson in the Sixers as they would go on and defeat the Sixers within the next 4 games to win their 2nd championship in a row.
The Sixer’s couldn’t repeat that success of the 2000-2001 season as they would be plagued with injuries along with ego clashes between Iverson and Coach Larry Brown. Iverson would publically criticize Brown for taking petty actions about missing practice in a very hilarious interview where he would repeat the word practice every sentence
After the Sixers faced first round elimination, Larry Brown left and was replaced by new head coach Chris Ford. The two would constantly clash over the direction of the team. Ford would take drastic measures in trying to get under Iverson’s skin. He suspended him and fined him because he didn’t attend a game due to a sickness and not notifying Ford. Iverson would claim that the breaking point was the fact that he felt “insulted” that Ford suggested he’d come off the bench as he worked back from an injury. Iverson would play his last season as a 76er in 2005-2006 before eventually returning in 2009-2010
It seemed like yesterday that Iverson took a mismanaged and neglected franchise in Philadelphia to the top. His fallout with coaches, management along with his legal problems and bizzare antics would overshadow a lot of his acheivements.
His relationship with the Sixers organization was crumbling and demanded that he wanted to be traded. Iverson got traded to the Nuggets and played second string scorer to already established Nuggest Star Camello Anthony. His stint in Denver proved to be a hard adjustment as his antics off the court would be more mentioned than his play on it. The Nuggets would lose 4-1 in the playoffs to the San Antonio Spurs and Iverson wanted a way out.
His stint with the Pistons wouldn’t make no difference as he would have a hard time adjusting to the Piston’s format and the fact that he wasn’t the only scorer on the team. The Nuggets trade proved to be the lowest point in Iverson’s career as it would show that he was a shell of his former self. Even though he returned to the Sixers, He wasn’t the player he once was.
Iverson despite returning back home seemed less motivated to play in the league. Years of legal troubles, clashing with management, coaches, along with injuries have plagued his career shortly after his magical game in the 2001 finals. Its gotten bad to the point where the up and comers are taking Iverson to school Check out how Rodney Stuckey giving A.I. the Jordan treatment:
With Iverson currently playing ball in Turkey, It’s very unknown on whenever he would return to the NBA. Even though his latter years were plagued with personal problems and controversy. He still would be remembered as a guy that brought the hip hop flare into the league and made no shame into the league. Iverson brought attitude along with heart and desire, He was the player that the underdog that many people who bought a ticket to watch or see him play on TV could have indentified with. He never compromised himself or changed who he was to please anybody.
Iverson’s departure could have come from the fact that he lost the desire to play and his heart wasn’t with the league anymore. Hopefully he will comeback to a winning team that’s willing to give him a shot to make one more run because it would be a shame for his legacy to go out like this.