Thursday, December 24, 2009

In Defense of Allen Iverson

With the retirement, and now unretirement of AllenIverson, I've taken some time to look back at the career of one of my favorite basketball players of all time, and one of THE best to ever do it. Because of the media, and the talking heads over at ESPN people are going to remember Iverson as a team "Canswer" and not as a player who came out every night and gave it all for 48 minutes.

His career has been marred by controversy dating all the way back to his senior year of High School, when he was caught up in what has been described as a near race war at a bowling alley in his hometown of Hampton Virginia. Only Iverson and his fellow African-American friends were arrested, with Iverson facing a potential 20 year prison sentence. He spent four months at Newport News City Farm, a correctional facility in Virginia the case was overturned due to insufficient evidence.

However, this didn't stop Iverson from going on to Georgetown and having one of the illest, and highlight worthy two year careers of all time. Under legendary coach John Thompson, Iverson went on to destroy the Big East for two winters, winning two Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards, and was named to All Rookie Tournament 1st Team. However, his accolades don't do him necessary justice. At 6' and armed with a killer crossover and unparalleled athleticism, Iverson dominated the college game from the get go, and was the face of a new era of player. His grittiness, heart, and "you can't stop me" attitude was never seen from a player at his height. Peep these youtube videos for visual justice: href="">(the dunk at :32 is just disgusting). (Also, Iverson was part of one of the most underrated college rivalries with Ray Allen. The hype surrounding these two was unreal, especially when they were pit against each other; think Ali-Frazier on the hardcourt, every time they squared off it was a slugfest. Their'95 game at the Garden goes down as one of the best college basketball games of all time, with two of the best college players of the '90s going bucket for bucket.) More visual evidence:"> featuring Cameos from Travis Knight, Donyell Marshall, and Othella Harrington.

After two stellar years at Georgetown, Iverson was drafted first overall by the 76ers in 1996 Draft (incredible draft by the way featuring Steph Marbury, Ray Allen, Kobe, Nash, Marcus Camby, plus Knick picks John Wallace and Walter McCarty...and people only wanna blame Isiah.) Iverson was getting busy in the League from day one and was honored with Rookie of The Year. Iverson proved that a new athlete was entering the NBA, and made that point quickly by crossing the hell out of then reigning NBA king Michael Jordan. (rookie highlights.... ">peep the original Questions, so official.)

Iverson's first year was only a stepping stone, and during the 1998-99 season Iverson won his first scoring title, was named to the All-NBA First Team and his first playoff appearance as a 76er. And despite facing numerous injuries, he averaged over 44 minutes a game and put the team on his back carrying them to the 2nd round of the playoffs. Iverson was playing on a whole nother level than the rest of the league at this point, but was still under appreciated due to his media dubbed "thuggish" attitude.

(Few people realize the impact Iverson had on the league, both as a player and as a fashion icon. He was one of the first players to take his "urbanized" look and bring it to the suburbs. His whole clothing line and shoe market was aimed towards urban youth, everything Iverson donned; whether it was a headband, arm band, arm sleeve, tattoo etc.. became popular around America. Think Lebron would be rockin a headband plus tats without the influence of Iverson? Hellllllllllllllll no.)

The 2000-2001 season was hands down the best of his career, and arguably one of the best of all time. After being actively discussed in trade discussions during the offseason, Iverson came to play with an enormous chip on his shoulder. Iverson led his team to a 56-26 record and was named All-Star Game MVP, won the Scoring Title, Led the league in Steals, named to the All NBA First Team, and League MVP. Iverson led the Sixers to the NBA Finals, only to be met by the unstoppable tandem of Kobe and Shaq. (I think a lot of people underestimate how incredible this season was. Iverson took a team comprised of Dikembe Mutombo, Tyrone Hill, George Lynch, Raja Bell, Kevin Ollie, Jumaine Jones, Eric Snow, and Matt Geiger among others, and put them on his back to post the best record in the East and a Finals Appearance. And another thing, how the hell did Todd MaCCulloch play in 3 NBA Finals Series? Plus Iverson completely ruined Tyronn Lue's entire existence.... ">
Iverson continued to do his thing with the 76ers from 2002-2006, scoring around 30 ppg and wowing NBA fans with a killer crossover and insane athleticism. He had a falling out with the Sixers and was eventually traded to the Nuggets and then the Pistons. However, as much bad press and criticism Iverson endured during his career, he almostnever took a night off, and gave his body and soul to the game of Basketbal.To all the non believers, bow in the presence of greatness...Oh you mad?
Oh yea, think I would go through a whole Iverson digression without this...">

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