On October 30, famed NBA guard Allen Iverson officially announced his retirement from basketball. The Philadelphia 76ers acknowledgement of Iverson’s retirement at their season-opener, filled with 76ers diehards and other famous players, was overshadowed by the thrilling debut of rookie Michael Carter-Williams in a win against the defending champions, the Miami Heat. However, the tribute to Iverson will be remembered more in the
With the first overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, the 76ers selected Iverson, who at 6’0″ became the shortest No. 1 pick ever. While Iverson’s presence did not help the 76ers win many more games in his first two seasons (+4 games, then +9 games), his play was phenomenal. In Iverson’s rookie season, for example, he averaged 23.5 points, 7.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game, en route to a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team as well as the Rookie of the Year award. In the lockout-shortened 1998-1999 season and the 1999-2000 season, Iverson led the 76ers to the playoffs, but both times was beaten in the second round by the Reggie Miller-led Indiana Pacers. This, along with a failed trade that would have sent Iverson to the Detroit Pistons, motivated him in what would become a season for the history books.
The 2000-2001 season started out with a bang for Iverson and the 76ers, as they won their first ten games. Midway through the season, Iverson was named a starter in the 2001 All-Star Game and earned the game’s MVP award. By the end of the regular season, Iverson had posted averages of 31.1 points and 2.5 steals a game, winning both the scoring and steals titles for the season. To top it all off, Iverson was not just elected to the All-NBA First Team, but he was voted as the 2001 NBA MVP.
The 76ers success did not end there. They finally beat the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the 2001 Playoffs, and then beat both the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games a piece to make it to the 2001 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.
In Game 1 of the series, Iverson scored a playoff-high 48 points, which helped the 76ers beat the Lakers 107-101. That game also featured one of Iverson’s signature moments in the NBA, when he took his time to step over Tyronn Lue after hitting a clutch shot in overtime. The 76ers would go on to lose to the Lakers, led by Kobe and Shaq in five games, but the 76ers’ run would not be forgotten.
After that impeccable season, Iverson continued to be a scoring machine and cornerstone for the 76ers, but the team never made it past the first round again in Iverson’s time with them. After comments from his coach, Larry Brown, following the team’s 2002 playoff defeat by the Boston Celtics, Iverson went on a rant about how he and the media were discussing “practice” even though he was the “franchise player.” Iverson was traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2006, and also played with the Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies and 76ers again in his last years in the NBA, but never again reached the second round or his MVP-level play.
To this day, Iverson serves as an inspiration to not only high-volume scorers, guards who cross other players over and shorter players, but even to LeBron James. NBA players and the league’s fans will remember Iverson as one of the all-time great scorers, personalities and 76ers legends. As Iverson said himself at his farewell conference, “I’m gonna always be a Sixer, ’til the day I die. These fans are me. I am Philadelphia. When you think Philadelphia basketball, you think Allen Iverson. And I fought for that. I earned that.”
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