Allen Iverson is a household name in Philadelphia. While he may not have been and raised, scoring high point totals in Philly is where he spent most of his days. With Iverson wearing a 76ers uniform, the team was a competitive unit in the Eastern Conference, rising to the top in 2001.
Historically speaking, there are not many shooting guards like Iverson in the sport’s history. Not to mention, with his small stature, he paved hope for the younger generations that were seen as “too small.” Today, he remains an influential player that helped shape the game. Most of that comes from his lethal scoring.
These were Iverson’s points per game for each season.
1996-97 NBA Season: 23.5 PPG
After two seasons at Georgetown, Iverson was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. At 6-foot-0, Iverson became the shortest first overall pick in league history. Iverson backed up his reputation for being taken at the top with a 30-point effort against the Bucks in his first-ever NBA game. It was the third-highest scoring output by a rookie guard. Just a few days later, Iverson recorded a new career-high with 35 points against the Knicks. Iverson’s confidence never swayed away, once scoring 37 points against the 55-8 Chicago Bulls and crossing over Michael Jordan.
At the time, Iverson broke Wilt Chamberlain’s rookie record of three straight games with 40 points, doing this in five straight, capping the streak off with 50 points against the Cavaliers. Iverson would go on to win the Rookie of the Year, but the 76ers won just 22 games that season.
1997-98 NBA Season: 22.0 PPG
In his sophomore year, the 76ers added Theo Ratliff, Eric Snow, Aaron McKie, and a new head coach. Larry Brown helped Iverson develop, but the 76ers finished 31-51. Iverson played in 80 games and averaged 39.4 minutes per game. Iverson averaged 22.0 points and 6.2 assists. In addition, he shot 46.1% from the field.
Iverson averaged 2.2 steals as well, in what would be a run of nine straight seasons averaging at least 2.0 steals. While that production would say the same, we would see Iverson’s scoring production take off after this year.
1998-99 NBA Season: 26.8 PPG
Despite a lockout-shortened season, Iverson led the league in scoring. His first scoring title led him to being named to his first All-NBA First Team. The 76ers finished the year 28-22 and it would be the first time that Iverson made the playoffs.
Iverson averaged 28.5 points per game in 10 playoff games but battled nagging injuries throughout. The 76ers made the second round after the team upset No. 3 seed Orlando in six games, but the team would be swept in four games by the Indiana Pacers.
1999-00 NBA Season: 28.4 PPG
Before the season, Iverson signed a six-year, $70 million contract extension. The 76ers would have their best season under his belt up to date by winning 49 games and qualifying for the playoffs. The team finished with the No. 5 seed, one seed higher than last year. In the playoffs, Iverson averaged 26.2 points, 4.8 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.3 steals. The team would defeat the Hornets in the first round, but be eliminated by the Pacers once again in the second round.
During the regular season, Iverson made the All-Star team for the first time. It would be the first of 11 straight selections. He was also the only other player besides Shaquille O’Neal to receive an MVP vote. However, numerous disagreements with Coach Brown during the season led to speculation that he would be traded.
2000-01 NBA Season: 31.1 PPG
It was probably a good thing that the team never traded their star as he led the team to a franchise-record 10-0 start. Iverson was named an All-Star Game starter and won MVP of the game. The 76ers posted a 56-26 record and Iverson won his second scoring title. He also led the league in steals with 2.5 and was named the regular season MVP. At 6-foot-0, and 165 pounds, he was the shortest and lightest MVP ever.
Iverson led the 76ers to the NBA Finals, their first since 1983. In Game 1 of the Finals, Iverson scored 48 points against the Lakers, famously stepping over Tyronn Lue after hitting a crucial shot. Iverson scored totals of 23, 35, 35, and 37 despite the Lakers winning the following four games.
2001-02 NBA Season: 31.4 PPG
The team opened the year with high expectations. With the bulk of the roster returning, another run to the NBA Finals was on their minds. Instead, the team struggled with nagging injuries and went 43-39. Iverson specifically fought through injuries and played in just 60 games. However, he won the scoring title and led the team to the playoffs.
In the playoffs, the 76ers lost to the Celtics in five games. After the defeat, Iverson was criticized for missing team practices. That was when Iverson would use the word “practice” 24 times in a post-game rant that still lives on today 20 years later.
2002-03 NBA Season: 27.6 PPG
The trade of defensive-standout Dikembe Mutombo did not help the team’s start. The team also saw decreased production from Aaron McKie and Eric Snow. All three players were key contributors when the 76ers made the NBA Finals in 2001. Iverson would give the team all he could, averaging 27.6 points, which helped the team finish 48-34 and make the playoffs.
In the playoffs, the team qualified for the second round, where they met the Detroit Pistons. There, the team lost in six games. After the season, coach Larry Brown resigned. Speculation was that Brown and Iverson had a tumultuous relationship, but it was later reported the two were on good terms. Brown would join the Pistons and win a championship the following season.
2003-04 NBA Season: 26.4 PPG
To replace Brown, the 76ers hired Randy Ayers but failed to develop any type of a relationship with his players. After a 21-31 start to the season, he was fired. That led to the hiring of Chris Ford, who brought a more disciplinarian approach, which was not something Iverson was fond of being around. Iverson was repeatedly fined for failing to notify Ford of missing games, practices, and overall communication.
At one point, Ford approached Iverson about coming off the bench. That led to Iverson feeling disrespected by the coach. The reason was that Iverson was coming back from an injury. Iverson missed 34 games altogether and the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 1998.
2004-05 NBA Season: 30.7 PPG
After a disastrous season, the 76ers bounced back with new head coach Jim O’Brien. The team also acquired Chris Webber via trade and drafted first-round pick Andre Iguodala. The 76ers were a reinvigorated group, while Iverson was playing at a high level again. During the regular season, he scored a career-high 60 points on 24 of 27 shooting at the free-throw line in a win over the Magic. This production helped him land his fourth scoring title, where he also averaged 8.0 assists per game.
Iverson led the 76ers to the postseason despite a 43-39 record. They would go on to lose to the Pistons in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual champion Pistons. In the series, Iverson recorded three double-doubles, including a 37-point, 15-assist performance in their lone win. Despite the success, O’Brien was let go after reported disagreements with players and management.
2005-06 NBA Season: 33.0 PPG
O’Brien was replaced by former 76ers legend Maurice Cheeks. It was a move that was initially praised by Iverson, who had been an assistant coach with the team when the 76ers made the NBA Finals in 2001. Iverson averaged a career-high 33.0 points but didn’t win the scoring title as Kobe Bryant embarked on a legendary season.
Despite the individual success from Iverson, the team missed the playoffs for the second time in three years. It also featured a slew of off-the-court distractions. That included when Iverson and Chris Webber showed up late to fan appreciation night and were fined. That led to speculation that Iverson would be traded.
2006-07 NBA Season: 26.3 PPG
The team started 3-0 but then lost 10 of their next 15 games. After the disappointing start to the season, Iverson was reported as demanding a trade. As a result, Iverson was told he would not play any more games. Iverson ended his 10-year career in Philly with the highest scoring average in team history (28.1 PPG), and second all-time in points (19,583). After his return to Philly, that average would drop to 27.3, where it is tied with Wilt Chamberlain for the highest in team history. The 76ers would not win a playoff series after his departure until 2012.
On December 19, 2006, Iverson was sent with Ivan McFarlin to the Nuggets for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and two first-round picks for the 2007 NBA Draft. Iverson became the second-leading scorer to Carmelo Anthony. The Nuggets made the playoffs but were eliminated in the first round by the Spurs.
2007-08 NBA Season: 26.4 PPG
The season saw Iverson play his only full season with the Nuggets. The team won 50 games and made the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. They failed to make it out of the first round after being swept in four games by league MVP Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. With Iverson on the team, the Nuggets were the ninth-best offensively-rated team in the NBA.
With that said, the fit with Iverson and Anthony wasn’t long-term. Despite the Nuggets parting with two first-round picks, the relationship would only see one full season together. Iverson would make the All-Star Game in 2008 and it would be his final season of averaging at least 20 points per game.
2008-09 NBA Season: 17.5 PPG
After three games, the Nuggets traded Iverson to the Pistons for Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess, and Cheikh Samp. Iverson switched to No. 1 on his jersey because No. 3 was worn by Billups during his career in Detroit. Iverson scored at least 24 points in four of his first five games, which led to about 20 points on a nightly basis.
With that said, the Pistons elected to give more playing time to Rodney Stuckey. There was speculation that Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars did not see Iverson as a long-term fit with the team given his expiring contract. That would be true as on April 3, the team announced that Iverson was shut down the rest of the season due to a back injury; however, that was disputed when Iverson publicly stated he would rather retire than come off the bench.
2009-10 NBA Season: 13.8 PPG
Before the start of the season, Iverson signed a one-year contract with the Grizzlies. He would play just three games, averaging 12.3 points and 3.7 assists in 22.3 minutes per game. He would then agree to a deal with the 76ers. On December 7, 2009, he would make his return to Philly to a sold-out crowd, who gave him a standing ovation. The 76ers would lose to Iverson’s former team, the Nuggets.
Iverson was later voted as an All-Star starter in what would be his final time. His season-high was 23 points in a loss to the Lakers. On February 22, 2010, Iverson left the 76ers indefinitely, citing that he needed to be around his four-year-old daughter, which was later revealed as Kawasaki Disease. On March 2, it was reported that Iverson would not return, marking February 20th against the Bulls the final game of his career.
Career Average - 26.7 PPG
Iverson spent 14 seasons in the NBA and developed a reputation as one of the greatest shooting guards in NBA history. Iverson was an 11-time All-Star and a four-time scoring champion. He won one MVP and played in one NBA Finals. He was later inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016. Then, in October 201, he was named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
Iverson remains the all-time leader in three-point field goals made and attempted. He also led the franchise in turnovers and finished third in assists. He came up just short of finishing with 20,000 career points, but his legacy remains as a Philadelphia sports icon.