Allen Iverson is one of the most polarizing figures in all of professional sports.
We heard it first from Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie. They heard it from the twitter feed of NBA writer Marc J. Spears. He heard it from AI’s personal manager Gary Moore. That’s right folks, provided we aren’t dealing with a situation of broken telephone, Allen Iverson has decided to retire from the NBA. His career is over, and what a career it was. ‘The Answer’ is calling it quits.
Certainly in the coming weeks there will be plenty of coverage league wide that portrays Allen Iverson as being a selfish player, a veteran that couldn’t let go of his image as the league’s brightest star. A player that fought against father time and could not accept defeat.
But would the true fans of Allen Iverson have had it any other way?
Personally, I wouldn’t have expected, nay accepted, any less from ‘The Answer’. So what if he would not accept that he was no longer the artist on the basketball court that brought him to international fame? The man has no quit in him. That may sound odd given that we are talking about his retirement, but in actual fact when you look back at his career and accomplishments you will see a man that NEVER gave up. That played through countless injuries, that defied the odds, that fought battles of epic proportions in the likes of David vs. Goliath. I still think of Iverson attacking the basket against the giant Shaquille O’Neal in the 2001 NBA Finals, over and over and over again….
Allen Iverson was a damn soldier, and if anyone thinks anything less, they absolutely cannot consider themselves a fan of this sport.
So how did it come to this? We all know about Iverson’s drama and accolade filled seasons in Philly with the Sixers to kick off his career. Then after things soured he was traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2006 for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and some draft picks. After a couple great seasons in Denver from 2006-08 where the Nuggets set franchise highs for wins, he was traded to the Detroit Pistons for Chauncey Billups. Allen Iverson and the Detroit Pistons slow, grind it out, style of play did not mix. Neither did Coach Curry’s decision to start Rip Hamilton at the 2 instead of Allen for most of last season. It was clear that Iverson would not resign with the Pistons this summer. On September 10, 2009, Iverson signed a 1-year contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. Iverson stated that “God chose Memphis as the place that I will continue my career,” and that “I feel that they are committed to developing a winner.” He then played in only 3 games for the Grizzlies. He actually shot a great percentage and looked pretty good, but they played him limited minutes and that didn’t sit well with Allen. So he took a leave of absence from the team and eventually was bought out of his contract on November 19th. After a brief flirtation with the Knicks, Heat, and Celtics, today he has finally called it quits.
When you truly consider Iverson’s small stature at only 6’0″ and 175 lbs, you come to realize that he may be the best pound for pound basketball player this league has ever seen. And if not that, then certainly the best pound for pound scorer. He was a past Rookie of the Year, league Most Valuable Player, 10 time All-star, 4 time Scoring Champion, and his shining moment was leading the surprise Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals in 2001. Even though he was always undersized he still somehow managed to attain the 5th All-time highest career scoring average at 27 points per game. But he wasn’t solely offense. He also lead the league in steals multiple times.
Iverson began his NBA career by being selected by the Philadelphia 76ers as the #1 overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft in an era when undersized Point/Shooting Guards were considered a risk not an asset. But he was that good. He was such a force offensively that you had to pick him first. He dominated the game in the big man era, then he dominated the game in the wingman era. It didn’t matter what style of play, Iverson was the type of player that was fearless and could score on anyone. He also put butts in seats. Besides Tim Hardaway, many people consider Allen Iverson to have been the one who invented/evolved the “Killer Crossover”. He was as exciting a player to watch as anyone i’ve ever seen in the league not named the GOAT. In the early years he would take his mere 6’0″ frame way up and dunk defenders. By mid career he became one of the most fearless slashers the league had ever seen. He had an uncanny knack for getting to the free throw line at a record pace. But throughout his entire career he was one of the most lethal mid-range jump shooters league wide.
We will have more details for you as they unfold, but for now. Let’s put the pettiness aside and just thank Allen Iverson for the excitement that he has provided us as fans of the NBA for 13 years.
**Update** Here is the statement from Allen Iverson on the Stephen A. Smith Website:
Stepping away from the game will allow me to spend quality time with my wife and kids. This is a reward that far exceeds anything that I’ve ever achieved on the basketball court. I have prayed for this day and I see it as my greatest gift.
I want to thank the people of Reebok International Ltd., for always allowing me to be me and for supporting me my whole career through all the ups and downs. I have enjoyed 13 wonderful seasons in the NBA, and I am grateful.
I want to first acknowledge my fans everywhere, who have been with me throughout my entire career. Without you, there would be no me. You should all know that I appreciate your support from the bottom of my heart. Thank you!
To Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Charles Barkley and Larry Bird, you guys gave me the vision to play the game that will be forever in my heart.
To my Mom, who encouraged and inspired me to play every day, and to all of my family and friends who stood by me from the beginning. Thank you!
To my high school coach, Michael Bailey, Coach John Thompson at Georgetown University, Coach Larry Brown and to all of my other coaches, teammates, administrators, owners and staff who’ve been a part of my career, Thank you as well!
I’d like to give a special thanks to the people of Memphis. I never played a home game for your beloved Grizzlies, but I want you to know how much I appreciate the opportunity given me by a great owner in Michael Heisley, and the support of the city. I wish the Memphis Grizzlies’ organization all of the success that the game has to offer.
And finally, to the city of Philadelphia: I have wonderful memories of my days in a Sixers’ uniform. To Philly fans, thank you. Your voice will always be music to my ears.
God Bless all of you,
Check out these Top 10 Plays from Allen Iverson throughout his career: