Give it up one more time for one of the GOATs! On Monday April 4, 2016, Allen Iverson was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, as a first ballot inductee. Allen Iverson started his athletic career at Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia. He started at quarterback for the football team, while also playing the position of running back, receiver, and return man as well. He even won the state championship in football as the starting quarterback in his junior year. But there was something Allen loved even more than football, it was basketball. He won the state championship as the starting point guard in his junior year as well. It was evident that he was destined for great things in the world of sports. He chose to go to Georgetown to play basketball, where he would win many accolades in just two years, and also set the school record for points per game with 22.9. He would choose to leave after his sophomore year and enter the NBA Draft, where he stood at "6 feet tall," and was selected #1 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers where he would lead a historic career in the great game of basketball.
His rookie season was an indication of how he would leave his mark on the game. He won rookie of the year by scoring 40 points or more in 5 straight games, averaging 23.5 points per game, scoring 50 in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and most memorably crossing over Michael Jordan.
The first time I ever sat down and watched an entire Allen Iverson game was in 2001 when the 76ers played against the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 of the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Allen played the full 48 minutes of the game, which turned out to be a nail biter until the very end when the 76ers defense stopped Vince Carter from hitting the series winning shot. I was excited for him and the Philadelphia 76ers.
When they reached the NBA Finals, they played against one of the greatest teams in the history of the sport, the Kobe and Shaq-led Los Angeles Lakers. It was Game 1 in Los Angeles and nobody in the world thought they had a chance. But Allen led the way in one of his greatest games he's ever played, scoring 48 points and defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in overtime in a stunning upset. Allen juked Tyron Lue into the year 2015, when he became a head coach. That moment probably did more for Tyron Lue's career than any of his actual play ever did. In that game I saw something that I had never seen until that point in my life, mind you I was only 9 years old, but still. This guy was out there playing with his heart on his sleeve. Leaving no emotion hidden inside. He was himself. Regardless of what the media, his coaches, his teammates, or his fans thought about him, he was going to leave it all on the court once the game started. You could visually see him willing his team towards a victory. At that moment, I knew what kind of person Allen Iverson was and I was instantly taken over by his persona.
I remember playing basketball all by myself in the driveway, imaging that I was him. Trying to perfect every move that I saw him do in that game. Dreaming of one day feeling the same thing he felt when he was on the court. But no basketball player in world could do what he was doing, especially at his height in a big man's game. He paved the way for so many basketball players that are in the league today. But even bigger than that, he paved the way for people like me in a lot of ways. His mother was 15 years old when she had him, just like my mother was when she had me. He fought his whole life just to find a way to prove that anyone can be successful as long as they stay true to themselves. Allen Iverson stayed true to himself, and it has always inspired me to be whatever I believe I can be, regardless of what they believe you are capable of. And as Allen Iverson found himself inducted into the Hall of Fame, you too can reach your wildest dreams, as long as you stay true to yourself.
Here is the greatest Allen Iverson highlights video ever created.
Just a man trying to make the most of his time on this planet.