This really seems like the end of an era. For the past thirteen years, Allen Iverson has undoubtedly been one of the best and most polarizing figures in the NBA. It’s certainly hard to deny his impact on the association whether David Stern would like to admit it or not.
I was 10 during the 2001 NBA finals. I knew that the Lakers were huge favorites in that series, but after they took Game 1, it certainly looked like anything was possible. At the time, I didn’t realize how amazing it was that Iverson was able to carry that team to the Finals. Who was the second best player on that team? A 34 year old Mutombo? Eric Snow? Aaron McKie? The 76ers were such an awful team outside of Iverson and the fact that he was able to carry that team to the Finals on sheer will and determination is remarkable, something I can admire much more now than I could have 8 years ago.
When I was in sixth grade, I did a report on Allen Iverson. It was probably an odd choice for a 12 year old white boy from a suburb of Akron, but I loved him so much. I think this was also right after he had posed shirtless on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the roses; I’m pretty sure that cover frightened my parents a little bit, which of course made Iverson all the more intriguing to me.
He defined swagger. The play where he stepped over Tyronn Lue after nailing a jumper in his face is one of the defining moments for me along with the 10 steal game against Orlando and him chasing down Marc Jackson for a steal. He never quit and it’s hard to imagine someone whose body was more ravaged with less time missed.
I wish that he could have adapted though. That will be the sad final statement on his career: that he could only win on his own terms. In a way, it’s symbolic that he made it to the Finals as the only really good player on the team. That Nuggets team could have been great. They haven’t really added any other pieces since he left except Billups and they’re doing great. If Iverson would have been a role player or passed the ball more, they could have been a championship contender. It’s sad really. I will certainly miss him and wish that his career could have ended on a much, much different note.