BY SPENCER REITER, Staff Writer
I recently cracked open my copy of the game NBA 2K10 for the Xbox. Being a fan, I had to play my first game with the Sixers — no matter how bad they are. I guess the rosters were not completely updated, because Allen Iverson was my starting point guard. I tore up that virtual court with A.I. He was unstoppable, scoring 32 points and 10 assists. And it just got me thinking about how good ‘The Answer’ was and what a pleasure he was to see play. The recent news of Iverson leaving the Sixers and the NBA for the rest of the 2010 season brought on thoughts of those late 90’s-early 00’s days he has with the Sixers. Is the player that was once considered the one of the best guards in the NBA leaving us forever? The only logical answer is yes.
It seems the always entertaining, heart-filled, dominant career of Iverson has come to an end. The video game reminded me that Allen Iverson was once one of the best, and although he may have ended his career on a low note, he has left the Philadelphia, and basketball fans everywhere, with some memorable moments.
In 1996, his ten-year-career with the Sixers began when he was drafted out of Georgetown. Iverson showed his skill as a first year NBA player by winning the Rookie of the Year Award, thus starting the guard’s exciting career in the NBA. One memory that rookie year left us with — when he was able to cross up the great Michael Jordan and hit a jumper from just inside the arc.
As a young basketball fan, I grew up watching Iverson play in Philly. He was exciting, he knew how to light the crowd up. There was never a dull moment in the First Union Center if The Answer was in the house. In 2000-01, I remember watching the Sixers religiously. The team was young, as was their leader. However, Allen Iverson rose beyond his years and had an MVP season.
He was able to lead this team all the way to the NBA Finals in a run that rivaled the 80’s seasons. He showed his hard work, his devotion, and his excitement for the game in this entire season.
During these Finals, Iverson hit the memorable jumper while guarded fiercly by Tyrone Lue. Iverson stepped over his face after making the shot. Another memorable moment in Iverson’s history as a Sixer came in his infamous 2006 ‘Practice’ press conference. I’m talking ’bout a press conference, not a game, but a press conference.
Iverson left the nation in hysteria when he used the word “practice” over 20 times in responce to reporter Neil Hartman’s question regarding coach Larry Brown’s concerns about his attendance at team practice. He was grilled by the media and judged by a lot of people for his remarks which included, “how the hell can i make my teammates better by practice?”
His relationship as a leader with the Sixers and Philadelphia started to go down hill. It was vintage Iverson. However, looking back, when Allen Iverson has showed his efforts in the past for the team when it counts, it is not a HUGE deal when he misses practice. I also understand it was an important game, and everyone must attend no matter who you are, but it was blown out of proportion.
As it seemingly turned out this, coupled with an increasingly touchy relationship with Brown, factored in to Iverson’s departure from the city in 2006. He then went to the Nuggets and the Pistons for a short period of time. He did not play like he did in Philly, and it was clear he was not the player he used to be. His career relied on his hustle and he just didn’t have much left to give.
Iverson was a one of the best guards to ever play, and he did a lot for the city of Philadelphia. He was exciting, fun, and most of all he loved to his fans and his city. His absence will surely be recognized by everyone and he will be missed.
He leaves behind a legacy of hustle and an attitude of leaving it all out on the court. To Iverson, if you weren’t there to play your hardest you might as well not even show up.