Tonight, the Philadelphia 76ers plan to retire Allen Iverson's jersey against the Wizards at 7:30 Eastern time. Allen Iverson played with the 76ers for 10 years and through his 76er career averaged 28 PPG, 6 APG, 2 SPG, and 4 TRB. Iverson led the league in scoring 4 times and minutes per game 5 times.
The fact that he led the league in minutes per game 5 times, shows how much Iverson loved to play the game. People seem to forget how much Iverson loved and wanted to play the game. Think about this: Iverson played 44 minutes per game in the 2002 season. This means he only sat out for 4 minutes the entire game! Lebron sits on the bench 3 times longer per game! Iverson just wanted to play, but not practice. We all know he did not want to practice....
Speaking of his infamous speech, Iverson did have some disappointing and frustrating moments/years in Philadelphia. Before I get into his best moments, here are some of his most disappointing moments as a 76er:
The constant fighting with Larry Brown: The relationship does not seem to be as bad as it was during Iverson's playing days, but even today, Larry Brown is not too comfortable with Iverson. In a recent interview, Larry Brown said Iverson visited his current team (SMU) and said he was the greatest player of all time. Larry Brown also said in the interview, "He talked about the good things he did, and the things he would like to change, which weren't a lot." Brown seemed to be pretty respectful for the rest of the interview, but was not all positives talking about Iverson. Eh, at least their relationship has improved.
Off-court issues: Between the arrests, drugs, and his infamous press conferences, Iverson never had a great off-court relationship with the world. He was arrested for going nearly 30 MPH above the speed-limit, smoking marijuana, and basically hunting down his wife after kicking her out "his" house. Ever since his high school days and the crazy fight at the bowling alley (If you don't know what i am talking about, I recommend reading the following article and i strongly recommend watching "No crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson." Article: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125870182), he has struggled to maintain a healthy off-court life.
The end: Allen Iverson did not have a great farewell season when leaving the 76ers. During the 2007 season when he averaged 31 PPG and 7 APG, Iverson demanded to be traded. The Chairman of the 76ers eventually went on life television and announced he would be traded. On December 19th, his 76er career had came to end. Since his departure, the 76ers have struggled with finding a star.
Now that we have his poor moments as a 76er out of the way, I can move on to the happier moments in Iverson's career:
2001 NBA Finals Game 1: The 76ers first trip back to the NBA Finals since 1983 was a hopeful, but disappointing experience. The first game of the Finals was the best moment of the Finals for Iverson and Philadelphia. Iverson went on a rampage and would not let his team lose. He scored 48 points, 5 steals, and 6 assists as the 76ers beat the Lakers 107-101. He clinched the game for the 76ers in OT as he embarrassed Tyron Lue and sent him falling to the floor. In the end of the series, the Lakers with Shaq and Kobe overpowered Iverson and won the series 4-1.
MVP Season: The same year as his only trip to the NBA Finals, Iverson won the 2001 MVP. He averaged 31 PPG and 2.5 SPG (Leading the league in both) and was unstoppable throughout the season. He was an all-star and actually won the All-Star game MVP. In the end, his best season had a disappointing end as he was stopped by Kobe and Shaq in the Finals.
Allen Iverson verse Michael Jordan: It was Iverson's rookie season and the 76ers were set to square off against the Chicago Bulls. The two teams had already squared off before as Jordan and the Bulls got the best of Iverson and 76ers. This night was different. Throughout the game, Iverson was unstoppable. He ended up finishing with 37 points, shooting 65% from the floor, and being one of the only players to ever be able to say, "I crossed Michael Jordan." Jordan faced off against Iverson a total of 13 times and Jordan won out 7 times. Jordan usually got the win, but Iverson was the one usually putting on a show. Iverson scored above 30 points 8 times against Jordan's teams (Wizards and Bulls) and once scored 44 against the Chicago. When Iverson and Jordan faced off, it was a must see show.
Allen Iverson's best scoring games: I wanted to just point out Iverson's 60 point game against the Magic, but he also had many more games in which he put on a scoring barrage. In his rookie season (repeat: Rookie season), Iverson scored 50 points against the Cavs. This is 8 points shy of the rookie record set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1960. Iverson, in his great 2001 playoff run, scored 54 points verse the Toronto Raptors. He outscored Vince Carter by more points than Vince actually scored in this game 2! Amazingly, 3 games later, Iverson scored 52 points verse Vince again! He went on to hit 8 three pointers, passed out 7 assists, and had 4 steals. Two years later, Iverson scored 55 points verse the New Orleans Hornets in 2003 as he shot 65% from the field! Finally, Iverson's best scoring game of all time came in 2005 verse Dwight Howard and the Magic. He had a poor shooting performance from the field as he shot 17 for 36, but made up for it by making 24 free throws! In the end, he ended up with 60 points, 5 steals, and 6 assists as the 76ers blew out the Magic 112-99. Iverson definitely had his fair share of scoring games in his career.
As the 76ers raise Allen Iverson's jersey into the rafters tonight, let's try to remember the great and proud moments of Allen Iverson. Forget the off-court issues, forget the coaching issues, and forget the terrible ending. Remember Iverson as the great player who everyone wanted to see play, and the fact that Philadelphia had the privilege to see him every night. Remember the great places Iverson brought Philadelphia. Remember him as the answer to Philadelphia's prayers.