Allen Iverson did Philly dirty last night – stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
With all of the hype surrounding the Answer’s latest basketball homecoming – he was scheduled to play in the Philly leg of rapper Ice Cube’s traveling three-on-three basketball league – maybe us fans should’ve been more prepared for a potential letdown.
The famously unreliable Iverson frequently skipped practice and various other appearances during his decade-plus as a Sixer. He even was a no-show for the team’s fan appreciation night in 2006! (Although we’ll put the majority of the blame for that dastardly move on A.I.’s ditching partner, the checked-out Chris Webber).
But with Iverson now not only enshrined as a Hall of Famer, but also over 40 years old, we thought our diminutive hero’s flakiness was behind him. Unfortunately for Philly basketball fans, apparently that’s not the case.
Allen ended up sitting out of Sunday’s highly anticipated BIG3 event, offering some half-ass explanation in a video he posted to Instagram roughly a half-hour before tipoff:
The news completely took the air out of the Wells Fargo Center, which was packed with nearly 12,500 spectators there to see one thing and one thing alone: Allen Iverson play basketball. Sure, it was cool that Doctor J was also in the house coaching, but the main draw was supposed to be the Answer throwing it back to the days of the 2001 Eastern Conference champions in front of his home crowd. His face was on the court for Christ’s sake!
“Ain’t nothing like the relationship we have,” Iverson told the incredibly patient crowd (bless their hearts). And he’s right. A.I. can do no wrong in Philadelphia despite the countless times he’s sandbagged fans. He gave his all for this city – the most important factor in determining whether an athlete is ascribed as a “Philly guy” – but how far does that go before the love runs out?
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File this anecdote under things that will make you feel old: Allen Iverson was named the Sixers’s first-ever NBA Rookie of the Year award winner 20 years ago today. Twenty years!
The Answer averaged 23.5 points per game during the 1996–1997 season, a mark that was best for all rookies and good for sixth in the league overall. Iverson edged out Minnesota’s Stephon Marbury for the award that year, receiving 44 votes to Starbury’s 35. Read more »
Hey, Sixers fans — wouldn’t you kill for just one more opportunity to cheer on Allen Iverson as he breaks ankles at the Wells Fargo Center? Now you’ve got your chance.
The Answer will be playing basketball in Philadelphia again on July 16th as part of rapper/actor/triple-double machine Ice Cube’s new venture, the BIG3, a traveling three-on-three basketball league featuring ex-NBA stars and other former pros looking for a paycheck. Read more »
Allen Iverson was on SportsCenter on Monday before the Sixers game and interviewed about his most memorable moment in the NBA. Was it winning the Eastern Conference in 2001? Or was it stepping over Tyronn Lue in Game 1 of the Finals? How about that time he stole the ball and laid it in with .2 seconds left for the win?
ESPN actually limited it to two options, including the Lue stepover. But Iverson chose a different one.
Iverson said his rookie-season crossover of Michael Jordan, when he crossed-over MJ and then hit a jumper, was his most memorable. “You gotta say the Mike joint,” Iverson told ESPN, “because it was Mike! I mean, the greatest player to ever play the game.” Read more »
The Sixers brought Allen Iverson back to celebrate his induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
As he looks to return from missing the previous two seasons because of a fracture in the navicular bone in his right foot, Sixers center Joel Embiid has been under a playing time restriction all season long.
That restriction, which started off at 12 minutes per game in the preseason and has been steadily bumped up to the current 28 minute allotment, has created quite a bit of discussion in the Philadelphia area as the league increasingly moves toward taking a cautious approach to the workload it places its athletes under.
Hall of Fame guard Allen Iverson would have struggled to play in this environment.
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Allen Iverson was enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame this week | David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Earlier this week Allen Iverson, one of the true icons in Philadelphia sports, was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
What was the reaction to his speech? Almost universal praise.
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Allen Iverson talks about his selection for enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2016 during a press conference at Wells Fargo Center in April. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
He was late for his first official duty — a press conference. Of course he was. As fellow 2016 inductee Shaquille O’Neal joked, “You’re talking about the Hall of Fame?” Allen Iverson, straight outta Hampton, does it his way and always has. Scarcely six feet tall, barely 165 pounds, he was the scrawny, ornery heart of the 76ers from his 1996 first-overall draft pick, leading the team on that thrilling 2001 ride to the NBA Finals against the Lakers. He was a Sixer again on the day in 2013 when he retired from the game, having been let go, at that point, by the Nuggets, the Pistons, the Grizzlies. Everyone knew he’d stayed too long in the gym. Read more »
On Friday night Allen Iverson, a six-foot guard from Georgetown, was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Iverson was treated with near-reverence, as he should have been on this day of celebration. But it wasn’t always this way for Iverson. Not even close.
The cornrows, the baggy clothes, the tattoos, the checkered past. Iverson entered the league as anti-establishment as it gets, with an “I’m going to do it my way” defiance that was endearing to some, offputting to many, many others. Throw in an early-career fight with Jerry Stackhouse and an ill-conceived (and ultimately unreleased) rap album and Iverson only became more polarizing during the early part of his NBA career.
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Allen Iverson laughs while talking to the media about his election into the Basketball Hall of Fame | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Things are better now between the two legends, the older one says over the phone, his monotone voice still heavy with the echoes of his native Brooklyn.
The tension that once defined their relationship — that of an unstoppable force colliding with an immovable object — and threatened to derail one of the most exciting eras in the history of the Philadelphia 76ers has remarkably softened with the passage of time, giving way to a warm, affectionate bond. So when Larry Brown gets a text message from Allen Iverson these days, the Hall of Fame coach pores over every word. He treasures the little digital glimpses into the mind of a complicated figure who captivated basketball fans in Philadelphia and across the country with his otherworldly skills on the court for 14 years.
But the public’s fascination with Iverson always went beyond whatever he accomplished in any individual game or season. Part of the thrill and the anxiety of watching his career unfold was the uncertainty of it all. Could he escape the suspicions and judgments people projected onto him because of the four months he spent behind bars at the age of 18 in Newport News, Virginia? Could he survive and thrive at 6-foot-nothing, 165 pounds, in a league filled with giants? Could he rise above the criticism he faced from NBA bigwigs and the media for the way he dressed, the way he wore his hair, the company he kept? Could he stay one step ahead of his own self-destructive tendencies, or learn to co-exist with authority figures like Brown?
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Allen Iverson’s glory days. | Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports.
Hold up, AI fans: If you can remember where you were during the 2001 NBA All Star Game, then you need to make your way over to Lapstone and Hammer, online and in-store, tomorrow to purchase an exclusive Allen Iverson 2001 All Star Game Mitchell & Ness Jersey.
The jersey – an exclusive collaboration with the Midtown Village boutique and the throwback sports company – includes an embroidered 2001 All Star logo patch on the right shoulder and a Hardwood Classics hem tag printed with game’s date, February 11th, 2001. Sales begin Wednesday, June 22nd, at 10am. And you’ll want to shop early: The first 100 people to purchase the jersey also score an invite to Friday’s release party at Lapstone and Hammer. Allen Iverson will be there as a special guest, so yeah, you’ll want to go to this. Click here to see the jersey and get more event details.