By Craig Fields
The Philadelphia 76ers retired the jersey of one of their most influential and high profile players in the history of the NBA. Allen Iverson’s number 3 was lifted to the rafters where it seemed at home between the jersey’s of Maurice Cheeks #10 and Charles Barkley’s #34.
Not only was the ceremony captivating start to finish, but the video that showed just some of the 6’0 guard’s highlights during a Hall of Fame career was absolutely phenomenal. Just in case any one of the fans sitting in Wells Fargo Center Arena last Saturday night forgot just how amazingly talented this guy was, that video made you remember with some electrifying footage.
Just taking a look at Iverson’s career numbers, it is hard to say that this guy is not a first ballot Hall of Famer. He averaged 26.7 points, 6.2 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per year over a 14 year span in the NBA. Those numbers are great for any person in the NBA, but no one his size has ever averaged anything close to numbers like that.
Larry Brown, a former and probably most influential coach in Allen Iverson’s career was probably involved in one of the most emotional moments of the night. Coach Brown, who is currently the coach for the SMU Mustangs, could not be at the ceremony because he actually had a game that night.
His words were still heard and felt as he spoke via video, “God put me here to coach you.” The crowd went nuts at these words and even Allen Iverson could not help but post a wry smile on his face.
The fact that the current members on the 76ers lost to the current members of the Washington Wizards, was of little consequence as the fans who were there were already a part of history.
Perhaps Iverson’s greatest moment in a 76ers uniform was when he put up 48 points in 52 minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals. He and Kobe had a back and forth in that game in what has widely been considered one of the best games in NBA Finals history.
Although Iverson and the 76ers could not pull out the series win, there was no doubt that the next generation of NBA would be led by a fiery competitor with cornrows and tattoos to boot.
Iverson officially retired in 2010 after an unsuccessful stint with the Denver Nuggets that ended rather abruptly. Even though he had his on the court issues as well as his off the court issues, to say that he was a polarizing figure for just those reasons, would be both inaccurate and unjust.
Perhaps a quote to best sum up everything would be one from Allen Iverson himself. “People ask me all the time, do I have any regrets? And I don’t have any. You know if I could go back and do it all over again would I change anything? No!”
One thing that is certain is that the 76ers will be hard pressed to find anybody like “AI” ever again. He was, is, and forever will be remembered embedded in the history of that franchise. “I am Philly,” Iverson said. “It’s always going to be that way.”