Who was Allen Iverson Really?
With his official retirement last night, this question comes up once more. And there are so many contrary views. But that is the real ‘Answer’ (sorry, bad pun). Paradoxical & Polarizing. There is no way to view Iverson & his legacy in a singular light of judgement. Rather he is the sum of all the good & all the bad, not either or. And that is what makes him great. He is THE Flawed Superstar. And that is why he will always be relevant, always be loved.
He is responsible for single handedly ruining a generation of playground ballers, each one trying to adopt his me first, take every shot, brand of basketball that is great fun for the player, but unbearable for the team. Play a pickup game with anyone who grew up around that time, and you’ll find your share of such players, the guys who may have more than adequate skill, but no one really wants on their team.
He is the reason tiny players can play the game fearlessly, and really believe they SHOULD be dominating games and intimidating much larger players.
His is the legacy of champion. He may never have won an actual ring, but his 2001 MVP season, where he carried a team with almost zero offensive talent, all the way to the Finals. And there he crowned himself at the cost of the mighty Lakers, undefeated in the playoffs until that point. The coronation being his famous shakedown of Tyronn Lue to seal the game in overtime.
I still remember it vividly today. The Sixers had the game in control. Then the Lakers set the feisty Lue on Iverson, who had been torching them all night. The lead dwindled. It went to overtime. I looked like the Lakers would stay undefeated. & then AI decided to change the narrative. The crossover. Shakes Lue off. Wet jumper. Lue on the ground. AI, in disgust, steps over him. GAME. That game was phenomenal. Still is. That is the game to remember him by.
As Michael Jordan once said,
There’s no I in ‘team’, but there is an ‘I’ in ‘win’.
And sometimes all it takes is one win to see greatness manifest.