He looked like a high school kid and dressed like a platinum-selling rapper. Few could dominate the hardwood like the brash, athletically freakish, braid-rocking, bandana-brandishing, truck-jewelry flossing Allen Iverson.
That was then. The nasty ’90s. Iverson turns 43 years old today but it seems like it was just yesterday when a pardon from Virginia Governor Doug Wilder led to Georgetown’s legendary coach John Thompson extending a life preserver to A.I., which unleashed the incomparable marvel and Hall of Famer known as The Answer.
Happy birthday to Allen Iverson. Undeniable influence, passion, and respect for the game. LEGEND.
That was back in the late ’90s when A.I. had a fro and was fresh off another season of catching wreck on the gridiron and the hardwood for Bethel High School in Hampton, Va. He was incarcerated and sitting on a Hampton jail farm, railroaded because of his color and local celebrity, implicated in a bowling alley maiming. But he beat those odds as well.
In a nutshell, the 6-foot, 155-pound lightning rod rose from the impoverished streets of Newport, News Virginia to become an NBA MVP and four-time scoring champ over 15 seasons in the league. He was a champion for the little guy who carried mountainous burdens.
Happy Birthday, Allen Iverson! Pound-for-pound, the greatest! https://t.co/uw6edTeP0A
“A.I. was the best under 6-2 baller (along with Tiny Archibald and Chris Paul and Isaiah Thomas) that I’ve ever seen,” my good friend, the 5-foot assassin Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest once told me. “I love the fact that he believed in being himself, never backed down from anyone and took pride in bustin ya’ ass on the court or on the asphalt. He’s my favorite baller in the last 20 years.”
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Its unfortunate that Iverson didnt get the city-to-city farewell tour and adulation he deserved before hanging it up. A first ballot Hall of Famer, A.I. is a once in a generation talent who revolutionized the culture of the game and pushed the envelope for future self-promoters and polarizing figures.
Every human with a pulse got goosebumps when A.I. worked that black magic on the hardwood. You could find him posted up in clubs and celebrity bashes nightly, with the same ferocity.
16 years ago, Allen Iverson talked about “practice” in a press conference and he wasn’t happy about it. https://t.co/zjlXTNq2Fx
He rarely held his tongue. He could be a headache for coaches, but A.I.s skill and will made him the irreplaceable centerpiece of the Philadelphia 76ers franchise.
The one and only Answer
A.I. suited up once for 3s Company as a player coach and played 9 minutes in his opening game, but it was clear he was a shell of his former self and he never hit the court again. “You’re not going to see the Allen Iverson of old out there,” he said after the game.
No, well never see the old Iverson again. The cult-icon and the great African-American enigma. Everybodys hero and conservative America’s former villain is embarking on another chapter of his lifes journey which seems to be suiting him just fine.