Posted October 30, 2013

Remembering Allen Iverson’s career

Allen Iverson, Ben Golliver, Besiktas, Philadelphia 76ers

8. Allen Iverson as the opposition

Allen Iverson

An injured Allen Iverson watches the Sixers from the bench in 2004. (Jamie Chojnacki/NBAE via Getty Images)

No player merged hoops and hip hop quite like Iverson. He hung out with rappers, enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle and wore everything from baggy jerseys and jeans to gear inspired by military fatigues. By 2005, Stern had had enough. As Chris Mannix reported in the Oct. 17, 2005, issue of Sports Illustrated, Stern was championing a new look for his players with an eye toward image. Who would supply the go-to quote critical of the new dress code? Iverson, of course.

Commissioner David Stern has announced his intention to implement a dress code for inactive players on the bench and players at team functions and on road trips. Dress shirts and slacks will be mandatory; T-shirts, ‘do-rags and the velour sweats that are all the rage will be verboten. “It’s a small thing that contributes to a sense of professionalism,” said Stern.

Dress codes in the NBA are nothing new. Coaches must wear sport coats and ties or turtlenecks. (Last season, Denver’s George Karl was fined $10,000 for wearing a throwback jersey during a game.) Players don’t mind rules for sideline attire, but they object to being told what to wear away from the arena. (A league source says the policy could be announced next week.) Says Sixers guard Allen Iverson, “Just because you put a guy in a tuxedo doesn’t make him a good guy.”

Iverson wasn’t done there. A few weeks later, Elizabeth Newman wrote the following in the Nov. 21, 2005, issue of Sports Illustrated.

The NBA’s new dress code may have rankled some–the 76ers‘ Allen Iverson said the league went “way overboard” by taking away players’ individuality.

As Phil Taylor noted in the July 7, 2008, issue of Sports Illustrated, the dress code was really a follow-up to a corporate-friendly pattern of decision-making that dated to at least 2001, when the NBA’s official Hoop Magazine erased Iverson’s tattoos.

Yet those same corporate entities want to keep that culture at arm’s length, lest it get too threatening to the paying customers. Thus we have the airbrushing of Allen Iverson’s tattoos in an NBA-produced magazine, and the league’s dress code, which makes sure the players won’t look too much like some of the musical artists the league otherwise embraces. You may call it racist and hypocritical; they call it good business.

The years following the institution of the dress code coincided with Iverson’s post-30 age-related decline. He moved from Philadelphia to Denver to Detroit to Memphis and, finally, back to Philadelphia, but his numbers just kept dropping along the way. He finally played his last NBA game, for the Sixers, on Feb. 20, 2010. All sorts of ugly off-court problems were already swirling.


9. Allen Iverson as export

It would have been naive to expect an ultra-competitive player such as Iverson to go gracefully and quickly into retirement. With age catching up and red flags mounting, Iverson elected to sign a two-year contract with Turkish club Besiktas in 2010. His hope, Chris Mannix reported in the Nov. 8, 2010, issue of Sports Illustrated, was to get another NBA shot.

“My whole thing was being wanted and being accepted by a ball club,” Iverson said. “That was the most important thing to me.”

Why is Iverson, an 11-time All-Star and one of the best little men in league history, no longer wanted in the NBA? The answer to that might just be the Answer himself. Iverson’s balking at coming off the bench with Detroit led to his banishment from the Pistons at the end of the 2008–09 season. He encountered similar problems with Memphis, which waived him after just three games in ’09. “I don’t think my basketball talents have anything to do with the reasons I’m not on an NBA roster right now,” says Iverson. “I made a lot of mistakes. And obviously it cost me.”

He has an opt-out clause in his contract after the first year, and a source close to Iverson says he is hoping a year as a good player—and a good soldier—will get him another shot in the NBA. “I’d be lying if I said [getting back to the NBA] wasn’t an issue,” says Iverson. “A lot of me not being in the NBA is my fault, but I can’t cry over that. I have to move forward.”

Iverson’s time in Turkey was brief, due to a leg injury, and the most memorable moment might very well have been his arrival at the airport. Even years removed from his prime and halfway around the world, he attracted a horde of cameras. The scene served as a tidy reminder of his global popularity and impact.

Video via YouTube user ESPN.


10. Allen Iverson as conquering hero

Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson acknowledges the Philadelphia crowd during his appearance at a Sixers game in March. ( Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Iverson never got another NBA shot. He has kept a fairly low profile in recent years, even as stories about his gambling, drinking, financial and marital issues surfaced. Before Wednesday, he had returned to Philadelphia on two memorable occasions: in May 2012, during the Sixers’ playoff series against the Celtics; and March 2013, when he was honored with a bobblehead in his likeness. His presence drew a warm reception on both nights. He wasn’t ready to talk retirement either time.

“I’m not using that word [retirement],” he said in a televised interview on ESPN in 2012. “I want to play basketball so bad.”

Then, to CSNPhilly.com this year: “At some point it comes to an end regardless, however it comes, whether it is retirement or injury, at some point it comes to an end. I am happy and content with everything that has gone on in my life and I am just looking for the next phase, and if I get a chance to play again I would love the opportunity, but if not I will continue to just be happy.”

Now, one of the NBA’s most indomitable spirits is finally ready to concede.


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65 comments
lionoah
lionoah

Iverson's claim to fame in the first place was his game...he was one of the greatest ever.

The back story rebel and hip-hop icon stuff only mattered because he had game. He could only put out bad music because he had game. The tattoos, the press conferences, the 'attitude' and the conSTERNation it caused was only because he was a GREAT player with a tremendous heart playing basketball...

He was not a particularly interesting person though. His forebear was not Dennis Rodman as JohnOliverBooker asserts; we are talking about Tupac Shakur. Tupac championed the 'I don't give a f**k' attitude Iverson glamorized in the NBA. Tupac was an entertainment money-making machine and essentially said I will not conform, which Iverson merely parroted.

What did he ever say or do that was original? Ultimately, he never grew up because had he grown he would have known that at some point you MUST 'give a f**k', you must compromise that youthful invincibility/immaturity. He grew up after he landed in Turkey though it was too late.

As a basketball player, he was an all-time great. Outside of the basketball realm, he is a cautionary tale to our youth. The message is simply that nothing lasts forever.

JohnOliverBooker
JohnOliverBooker

Iverson was not a rebel until was safe to be so. Anybody remember Dennis Rodman? Iverson didn't have tats until Rodman took all the slings and arrows to make it safe to have them. In fact, who had tats before Rodman? Anybody in here born before 1998? Iverson was no damn rebel unless you were born 2 years before Michael died. This generation is afflicted with the shortest memory spans. Iverson was a food stamp ghetto thug who didn't know how to play his position. The standard is, and always will be, Isaiah Thomas--anybody remember him? He made his teammates better bypassing the ball. Please, are there any posters over 19 here? These are the same morons who compare Lebron to Jordan, who was a better defensive player than he was at offense. And, unlike, "King James," Jordan didn't have to move from a crappy team to win a championship--Lebron did! Sorry for digressing but I couldn't help it.

acash626
acash626

A.I. played hard every single game.He left it all on the court. That said, I was not an A.I. fan. I did enjoy his play in All - Star games because there he was more a team player. In fairness to A.I. his style of play may have been dictated by the team around him.

rodtoke
rodtoke

Don't judge him by him looks or thug image.  A.I. was amazing on and off the court.  One of the nicest players I've ever met...

The "76ers" should have gave him one more shot, cause he isn't ready to retire.

B84
B84

I love this guy. He put a middle finger up to all the stuck up white people that always say "stay classy" (think Peter King and most of you d bags on here). A lot of the stuff he pulled I wouldn't do personally and don't condone it. But with that being said he changed the NBA forever. Thanks AI.

HerschelAnderton
HerschelAnderton

i'm going to troll the hell out of this thread.  sorry in advance.

Ryan1
Ryan1

Over-rated

He was 5-10, playing SG when he should have been a penetration point guard. He didn't run the offense, rather he shot constantly and wasn't much of a passer or much of a smart player. He was entertaining and the guy had heart and toughness, no doubt about that and I respect that, but his will and desire to really want to win seemed limited. 

People may say he didn't have much around him, but the reality is that no one wanted to play with him. Jerry Stackhouse, Tim Thomas, Van Horn, etc - the Sixers didn't draft particularly well but the reality was that no top free agent swing man or top flight PF or center is going to want to play with a guy who doesn't want to give them the ball - and you aren't going to win a title with a 5-10 shooting guard as your top threat. 

As for him being a top ten player - he isn't even in that discussion. 

Jordan, Wilt, Russell, Oscar, West, Magic, Bird, Isiah, Kobe, Shaq, Lebron, KG, Hakeem, Duncan, and the list goes on - all guys who had better careers and won titles. 

DEJ1948
DEJ1948

The first tatted-up, gang-banging punk in the NBA.  I'm not saying that this wouldn't have happened without Allen Iverson, but he was the first one out of the gate.  This is a guy who had zero respect for anyone...including himself.  He makes Rasheed Wallace look like a choirboy.  Sorry, I don't care how good a basketball player he was.  As a person, he was and is a complete loser. 

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

Iverson helped usher in the Ghetto era to the NBA, turning long time fans away from the game for good.

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

He was a loser on and off the court.

LazareJeanBernardHatzakorzian
LazareJeanBernardHatzakorzian

Been loving "ball" for over 50 years, seen a lot of the greats. Grew up in Philly, saw Chamberlain vs. Russel, saw Jabbar, Dr., and M.J. .A.I. is in my top 10!

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

That's some photo at the top, Geri.  A title: "My Salad Days" ("When I was green in judgment, cold in blood (Ed de Vere (Shakespeare), A&C)."

Daniel62
Daniel62

Iverson, there were many better than you, but no one has ever done it like you.  His game was pure art and bravery forged from the hardships of newport news, where they just do it better.  Vick was another one.  They try to hold your type down.  There are many like you we will never hear of because the world can't handle truth.  But Iverson was the truth.  Brave.  Pure bravery.  They tried to throw you in jail before you even got to George town.  We almost missed you Iverson.  We almost didn't find you.  Thankyou Iverson.  There has never been a player like him.  Many players have been better than him.  Bird, Jordan, Lebron.  None of those guys could have single handedlly taken that crappy sixers team to the finals.  Not even Jordan. 

Robert85
Robert85

Everyone who wants to attack Allen Iverson is claiming he has never learned from his mistakes and will continue to be a violent person who does drugs and drinks.

I don't think this is the way the Allen Iverson story will end. I think he has figured it out and won't squander the rest of his life.

OK
OK

Why are you honoring a wife-beating drunk whose urinated away hundreds of millions of dollars and never won a ring on the floor?

You think a wife-beating drunk without a financial pot to urinate in and a ring on his finger is worthy of anything other than a 24-hour enema for the rest of his worthless life?

AustinZehr
AustinZehr

@JohnOliverBooker because jordan wasn' t on a crappy team. he had an all star and perhaps the best head coach the NBA has ever seen

HerschelAnderton
HerschelAnderton

@B84 he changed nothing.  he simply magnified a trend.  and, it's not a racial thing that people dislike the guy.  he's just selfish, arrogant, and uninteresting.  colin montgomerie strikes me as the same sort of guy... and he never won anything either.  

ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI
ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI

@Ryan1 

Not even in the top 50 in my book, and he loses points for thuggery and all the black eyes he gave the game. Celebrate him.........no way. Good riddance.

KurtSteiner
KurtSteiner

@SukeMadiq    He took that crappy Sixers team to the finals practically by himself.   Tough to call him a loser on the court.

HerschelAnderton
HerschelAnderton

@LazareJeanBernardHatzakorzian ok.  look:  i'd argue that iverson doesn't even crack the top 10 GUARDS of all time... i mean, if it's ONLY point guards, he can maybe make the list...

michael

kobe

lebron

d-wade

isaiah

magic

oscar roberston

jason kidd

tony parker

derrick rose (yes, it's less absurd than your comment)

steve nash


i could go on.  you're up.

Ryan1
Ryan1

@LazareJeanBernardHatzakorzian 

A guy who didn't win a title and thought he was a SG - really - he is at best the 3rd best player in his draft class behind Kobe and Nash. Kobe has an mvp and titles and Nash has more mvps and made his team better. Guys wanted to play with Nash.


Wilt, Russell, Dr J, MJ , Kareem, all are better than AI, and so is Tim Duncan, Hakeem, Shaq, Isiah Thomas, Magic, Bird, West, Oscar, Moses - even in his era, among contemporaries, Iverson lags behind more accomplished guys like Kobe, KG, Shaq, Nash, Duncan, and Dirk in terms of what he actually accomplished. A lot of heart but he wasn't among the truly great players. As someone from Philadelphia, guys like Wilt, Dr J, Moses, and Barkley were better players

ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI
ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI

@Daniel62 

Funny, really. Must be a misprint. Did you actually mean to say the "...the hardships of Newport News...?" You're kidding right? Iverson had three felony convictions and THAT'S why they put him in jail. They didn't try, they DID it. Given his near continuous problems since then, does anyone really doubt the validity of the first convictions? I have to wonder if Gov. Wilder has any regrets about letting him out of prison after only four months. And let me guess, you think Micheal Vick was framed, right?! And finally, Jordan, Bird, Lebron,... any of those guys could have taken the Sixers to the finals - AND WON IT! 

Ryan1
Ryan1

the 76ers coulnd't attract anyone to play with Iverson because he was a ball and shot hog and a 5-10 sg shooting 30 times a game isn't a selling point for a star swingman who is a real SG or SF, or a PF or Center who wants someone who will get them the ball.

And the eastern conf that year came to Philly and Toronto, the conference was terrible - beating Vince Carter and the Raptors didn't and shouldn't have inspired any confidence against the Lakers or the elite teams that were in the west then. 

HerschelAnderton
HerschelAnderton

@Daniel62 it's interesting that you mention mike vick.  do you know who mike vick spent his first day out of prison with?... you're right, allen iverson....AND AI's (at the time) wife...at a strip club.  

ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI
ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI

@Robert85 

Hope you're right but if he couldn't cut it WITH millions in the bank, I don't think he has a chance with only PENNIES in his pocket. IMO the things he blew his fortune on are suggestive of deep insecurities and self-loathing, with a convenient wall of ego to hide behind.

Dustin9
Dustin9

@OK he won rookie of the year, made the playoffs year after year and was an all star year after year... You like Kobe??? He raped somebody.. Birdman??? Child pornography.. Jason Kidd?? Hall of famer but was charged with spousal abuse and was caught with multiple drunk driving charges... Keep talkin about stuff you dont know.


Zebede
Zebede

@OK A.I is being honored for what he did on basketball court, not off court.

OK
OK

P.S. Golliver, sometime in the next 3-5 years, when the cops find Iverson's lifeless carcass and a crack pipe or 15 in an alley or cheap motel room somewhere, call me so I can laugh in your face.

KurtSteiner
KurtSteiner

AI may be a lot of things, but uninteresting is not one of them.

Ryan1
Ryan1

@ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI @Ryan1 

he is top 50 and he had a lot of heart, I don't knock his game for the off the court stuff, on the court he is a great player. There are lots of great players though and he was great in his era, he isn't a GOAT level player. 

Maybe the best scoring small man in the NBA, but against Isiah, Stockton, Nash and the point guards from earlier eras who played not to score but to win and against guys now like CP3 or Rose - Iverson to me doesn't have that will to win like they do. He played for himself, not the team.

Ryan1
Ryan1

@HerschelAnderton @LazareJeanBernardHatzakorzian

Magic

Stockton

Jason Kidd

isaiah

Nash

Walt Frazier

Cousy

oscar roberston

Jerry West

tony parker

This is just more accomplished PG

Wade - if you consider him a PG - he is better. I would put Iverson in like with guys like Tim Hardaway or Gary Payton - all the other guys above were champs or had better total careers

ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI
ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI

@Dustin9 @OK 

Who likes Kobe? What exactly are you trying to say? Personally I think they all should have been fired for striking. But  "Keep talking about stuff you don't know." What does that mean? Did you mean "don't know about?" "Don't hoe about" fits better. For both AI and KB.

Wait a minute, me thinks me saw a Sixer fan.

OK
OK

@Dustin9

Kobe be known as Da Alleged Rapist.

HerschelAnderton
HerschelAnderton

@Zebede @OK let's honor oj simpson while we're at it.  his greatness on the field has really been over-shadowed by some poor off the field choices.  do you not agree?

Daniel62
Daniel62

@OK But Kobe Bryants probably just chill dude in your eyes right?  Not a rapist or anything.  

ITATTRACTS
ITATTRACTS

@OK Anyone who wishes ill will on someone is equally as bad as the person they are trying to clown. You're a piece of sh_t too, congrats. 

KurtSteiner
KurtSteiner

Right.   So replying to me seems a bit pointless, eh?    Glad we agree.

HerschelAnderton
HerschelAnderton

@KurtSteiner he replied to your post by saying that he agreed with my post (...obviously not yours.)  listening/reading some shakespeare might do you some good.

KurtSteiner
KurtSteiner

Hmm.   In order to agree with me, that would mean that I said the same thing, which I didn't.   Now THAT is interesting.

I am neither a thug nor hooligan, and I found him quite interesting.   I didn't watch him to hear him recite Shakespeare.   I like to watch him play basketball.   Tough dude.   Underdog in a big man's game.   I enjoyed watching him.

ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI
ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI

@KurtSteiner 

I agree that he's not interesting. Maybe to thugs and hooligans, but; I'm not sure he can string more than three intelligent sentences together. Maybe that's why he's so brash. He's a great ball handler, but he's also a great ball hog and I just have a problem with that.

KurtSteiner
KurtSteiner

Go back and look at that Sixers roster.   Who was he going to share the ball with?    Nobody else could score.

ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI
ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI

@Daniel62 @OK 

I really don't think that Kobe raped anyone. He did cheat on his wife though. But personally, he seems a bit of a whining preeming dong to me. Not a Kobe Bryant fan at all.

OK
OK

@Daniel62

The Laker's Punk is, first and foremost, Da Alleged Rapist.

ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI
ThomasWilliamEdgertonVI

@ITATTRACTS @OK 

He's just easy to loath. Come on, this is a wife beating thug. I won't go as far as wishing him ill will, but I will say that I can understand why so many people HATE him.