Why I Love This (Person): Allen Iverson
AI has been in the sports news for a few days now because he took a leave of absence from his current team – the Memphis Grizzlies – for personal reasons; sports reporters tend to think his issues had to do with not being a starter for the team. Now the Internets are abuzz with rumors of his impending retirement. Drama drama drama.
But lost amidst the talk of the sky falling and the devil returning to steal our children, why isn’t anyone talking about how dope Allen Iverson was?
He doesn’t even break six feet and still managed to cop the Rookie of the Year, one MVP, and 4 scoring titles. He even single-handedly led a terrible 76ers squad the the NBA Finals. (How terrible? Matt Geiger got run on this team.)
But men in suits have been trying to dethrone AI as the king of the NBA for years, trying to replace him with blander-than-Corn Flakes Kobe Bryant or Lebron “Not a businessman, I’m a business, man” James. But those of us who know know that AI is the post-Jordan player.
He was drafted the summer before I went to college, so I’ve basically been watching him my entire adult life. And it was perfect timing too, because he still got to play against MJ when he was still, you know, worth playing. And we all know what happened, AI broke his ankles:
He’s easily the best little man since Isiah Thomas (I don’t want to hear John Stockton’s name right here…) – but check his online rep and you’ll find as much hate as love, probably more hate than love.
And the reason is because Iverson was and still is just too black. Yeah I said it. Cornrows and tattoos and hip hop slang. And you know, David Stern wants black guys like Tim Duncan aka “Big Fundamentals” or as he likes to call himself “Merlin” (he’s into Dungeons & Dragons). He’s an iconoclast. He wasn’t listening to Jeffrey Osborne. He also bucked the trend of double digit jersey numbers that had been the norm for 20 years. I can’t remember the last superstar – I mean superstar – with a jersey number under 10 before AI, but now it’s rampant.
And I know he once went on a rant about not wanting to practice, and OK, so that wasn’t the most mature thing to do. But you saying you never complained about your job to anyone? He did the same thing, except in front of a bank of cameras. And he never slouched when it counted; he threw his body all over the floor every night for more than 10 years and he’s supposed to be lazy? He’s the most driven, focused, hard-working player on the court every game.
In addition: yall need to get over that. What was that like 7 years ago? So he said some ignant sh!t 7 years ago and he can’t be forgiven? Relax people.
Anyway, the NBA’s most racist-ass rule – the dress code for players – was put in place largely because of Iverson. Yeah they never said that, but everyone knows it wasn’t because of poser-ass Kobe. And Iverson criticized the dress code, calling it racist, as well he should have.
Shaq might be the most dominant player of the last 15 years. Lebron the most marketable. Kobe the most prolific. Duncan the most exemplary. Nash the best white guy (you know that always counts for something). But Iverson had the most charisma and personality (that wasn’t given to him by ad executives).
So he complained about coming off the bench, so what? He’s averaged 27 points a game over a 12 year career. You never complained about not getting recognized at your job?
I hope dude doesn’t retire because he deserves to go out on his own terms. I got an idea actually: after Ray Allen retires next year, sign with the Celtics as the starting 2 guard and win a couple titles.
Cool. Sounds like a plan.