DAR Sports: The Legacy of Allen Iverson

By @TrueGodImmortal 

There are some players who are beyond influential in this game. There are some who get etched in history because of championships, leadership, influence, scoring ability, and overcoming the odds. For Allen Iverson, his legacy was defined in just about all of those, except one: a championship. Despite never getting a championship, The Answer remains one of the most important players in the last 2 decades, and one of my personal favorite players period. Today, we wanted to look back at all he's accomplished, his legacy, and his influence.

The start for The Answer came truly during his high school and college days. As a dual athlete at Bethel High School in Hampton, VA, Iverson honed his skills and won the Associated Press Player of The Year award for both football and basketball in his junior year. Iverson would see controversy surround him due to a stigma placed on him as he faced jail time and served some months for an incident that occurred. However, despite the jail sentence and issue, Iverson was giving a full scholarship and chance by Georgetown University and head coach John Thompson to play for them.

Iverson came into Georgetown determined to make an impact and his work paid off instantly, as he won the Big East Rookie of The Year award, and was named to the All Rookie Tournament First Team. He led the Hoyas to the Sweet 16 that year, but they came up short and lost to North Carolina. However, Iverson would come back stronger in his sophomore year, leading the Hoyas to the Big East championship and to the Elite 8 before coming up just a tad bit short. Iverson would declare himself for the NBA draft and finish with a career 22.9 PPG average for Georgetown, setting a record.

As the draft neared, speculation arose on Iverson and being selected very early. He was taken with the first pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and looked to as the savior for the team. While his first season didn't save the team, he was named Rookie of The Year and to the NBA All Rookie First Team, putting up the astonishing first year numbers of 23.5 points per game, as well as 7.5 assists. The 76ers would struggle the next few seasons, but Iverson garnered headlines and a rewind clip when he crossed over Michael Jordan in a game against the Bulls, etching his name firmly in history there.

However, Iverson would have his first career breakthrough, as the 76ers would make the playoffs in the shortened 1998-1999 season, while Iverson won his first scoring title and led the 76ers to the second round of the playoffs before losing to the Indiana Pacers. Refocusing the following season, Iverson would lead the 76ers back to the playoffs, before unfortunately losing to the Pacers yet again in the 2nd round. Despite this, Iverson was named to his first All Star game, and he would continue to shine regardless. Iverson had a six year, 70 million contract and a true focus, along with growing leadership skills. As the 2000-2001 season arrived, Iverson came prepared to do damage without a doubt.

However, during his off-season, Iverson decided to jump into hip hop. Under the name Jewelz, Iverson released a track "40 Bars", and while not a bad track in itself, his endeavor never came to fruition truly as his recorded album never released due to controversy surrounding him and his aggressive lyrics. Despite this, Iverson went into the 2000-2001 season with a chip on his shoulder so to speak, a product of the issues between himself and coach Larry Brown.

The 2000-2001 season proved to be his greatest one, as he won the regular season MVP award, led the 76ers to 56-26 for the best record in the Eastern Conference, and won his second scoring title with 31.1 points a game. It was during this season that Iverson began wearing a sleeve on his arm to help with recovery of an elbow injury. Some would say that the sleeve helped his shooting ability and there could definitely be some truth to that. The sleeve became slightly popular due to Iverson, and other players adopted it as well. As the 76ers made their way to the playoffs, the talk was could Iverson lead them to the Finals? After finally defeating the Pacers in the first round, the Raptors in the semifinals in 7 games, and barely pulling out a 7 game conference finals win over the Bucks, the 76ers were set for a clash in the Finals with the Lakers.

Unfortunately for the 76ers, the Lakers were too unstoppable to defeat, and while Iverson played amazing mostly during the 5 game series, the Lakers still won the championship 4-1. It would be the only time Iverson would make the Finals in his career. The following year, in the 2001-2002 season, Iverson was momentarily sidelined due to injury, however he still managed to claim his second consecutive scoring title with 31.4 points per game. He led the 76ers back to the playoffs that year as well, but they came up short against the Celtics in the first round. It was during this season that the iconic "Practice" rant came of course.

The 2002-2003 season was also a good one for Iverson, as he helped lead the team to a 48-34 record and to the playoffs yet again, as they defeated the New Orleans Hornets in the first round. Despite this, the 76ers would end their year in the Semi-Finals as they were defeated by the Detroit Pistons. After this season, Larry Brown would leave the team, and a new coach would arrive. This began the true downfall of the 76ers and Iverson's relationship, as he had always been on a up and down swing with the team, but things began to get worse. Dealing with injuries sidelined him a period during the season and he didn't like the coaching. Iverson was never one to like discipline or strict coaching, so he clashed with his coaches for the most part. The 76ers missed the playoffs for the first time in years on the 2003-2004 season.

Iverson would bounce back however in the 2004-2005 season, winning his fourth scoring title with 31.0 points per game on the season, as well as averaging 8 assists that year. He led the 76ers to the playoffs this time, but they ended up losing in the first round to the Detroit Pistons. It would be the 2005-2006 where things went off the deep end for Iverson and the 76ers, as they missed the playoffs, yet Iverson finished the season with a career high averaging 33 points per game. The organization was slightly crumbling and Iverson was still his usual self, so soon into the 2006-2007 season, Iverson ended up being traded to the Denver Nuggets. Iverson finished his tenure with the Sixers carrying the record for the highest scoring average(28.1 PPG), and second on their all time scoring list. As he embarked on his journey to win a championship, the future was hopeful for him in Denver, next to the rising star Carmelo Anthony.

In Iverson's first year with the Nuggets, he ended up finishing the year with 24.8 PPG, lower than his usual, but the Nuggets still made the playoffs, though they lost in the first round to the San Antonio Spurs. His 2nd year with the Nuggets proved to be slightly better for him, as he finished with 26.4 PPG, but once again the Nuggets were eliminated early from the playoffs. During his tenure with the Nuggets, there was some controversy building over referees seemingly banding together to give Iverson a hard time and exercising their personal vendettas against him in the form of not giving him the proper calls during games. Iverson ended up with fines for challenging refs during games and this whole controversy truly showed that the integrity of refs has gone down drastically.

The last years of Iverson's career saw him bounce from the Detroit Pistons to the Memphis Grizzlies back to the 76ers with minimal success, as an existing back injury and some complications with his daughter's health proved to be much more important at that point. He would leave the NBA and attempt to play in the Turkish Basketball league, but injuries prevented him from truly getting into it, as he only played 10 games in the league. After declining an offer from the NBA D-League, he soon retired from basketball, saying he had lost his desire to play. It was believed that he was blackballed from the sport due to his difficult ways and issues, but his retirement ceremony was very warm and featured his Georgetown coach as well as Sixers legend Dr. J.

There have been reports over the years of financial issues for Iverson, but that could never put a damper on his amazing career. Despite some people's belief, Iverson is a definite future hall of famer. 11 time All Star, 4 time scoring champion, NBA MVP, 3 time All-NBA First Team, Rookie of The Year, etc... His legacy speaks for itself. Allen Iverson is a legend. The Answer is an icon. Never forget.



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