Allen Iverson was a lot more to the game of basketball than the player that said “practice” 22 times in a press conference. He was known for his prolific scoring and rebellious style during his 14 years in the NBA. Iverson overcame early legal issues to become a star at Georgetown and then eventually the No. 1 overall pick in 1996.
His greatness didn’t stop there as Iverson earned the MVP in 2001 and made 11 All-Star appearances. While he was criticized for coming off selfish, as well as several off-the-court incidents, Iverson will always be remembered as the short-statured scorer that had more confidence combined than the other team. The 2016 Hall of Fame inductee was a pure scoring assassin.
Allen Iverson’s Career: NBA Honors and Awards: MVP (2001), 11x All-Star (2000-2010), 2x All-Star MVP (2001, 2005), 3x All-NBA First Team (1999, 2001, 2005), 3x All-NBA Second Team (2000, 2002, 2003), All-NBA Third Team (2006), Rookie of the Year (1997), All-Rookie First Team (1997), 4x Scoring Champion (1999, 2001, 2002, 2005), Steals Leader (2001-2003)
Philadelphia 76ers 1996-2006
After two seasons at Georgetown, Iverson was taken with the No. 1 overall pick despite standing at 6-foot-0. He became the shortest first overall pick in NBA 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, which would just be the start of Iverson’s greatness.
Iverson recorded scoring outputs of 23.5, 22.0, 26.8, and 28.4 in his first four full seasons, It was his fifth season when he helped Philadelphia have one of the best seasons in franchise history. During the season, Iverson led the team to a franchise-record 10-0 start on route to winning 56 games and the No. 1 seed. Iverson averaged a then-career-high 31.1 points, winning his second straight scoring title. He won the steals title as well on his way to winning the MVP, becoming the shortest and lightest (165 pounds) MVP ever.
The 76ers made the NBA Finals for the first time since 1983. Iverson scored a playoff-high of 48 points in a win over the favored Lakers. In the game, he famously stepped over Tyronn Lue after hitting a crucial shot. Iverson would score 23, 35, 35, and 37 points in the next four games despite the losing efforts.
Iverson won the scoring title the next season by averaging 31.4 points but was limited to 60 games due to a variety of injuries. The following years were tumultuous times for Iverson and the team. The team was upset in the first round of the playoffs that season and then was upset in the second round the following year, which led to Larry Brown’s exit as head coach.
When Brown was fired, it didn’t sit well for Iverson, who was frustrated. He never developed chemistry with new head coach Randy Ayers, who was fired midseason, as well as interim head coach Chris Ford. Despite the distractions, when Iverson was on the court, he was the same lethal scoring assassin. In 2005, he won his fourth and final scoring title, which featured a career-high 60 points on 24-for-27 shooting from the free-throw line against the Magic. It helped the 76ers return to the playoffs before losing in the first round. In his final season, the 76ers started the year 5-10 and Iverson requested a trade. As a result, he ended his 10-year career with the highest scoring average in team history (28.1), second in all-time points (19,538), and the 76ers didn’t win a playoff game until 2012.
Denver Nuggets 2006-2008
On December 19, 2006, the 76ers traded Iverson and Ivan McFarlin to the Denver Nuggets for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and two first-round picks in the 2007 NBA Draft. At the time, the Nuggets had young superstar Carmelo Anthony, who was the league’s leading scorer, while Iverson was the second-leading scorer.
Iverson completed the year with the Nuggets making the playoffs, but were defeated in the first round. Iverson finished the year with Denver averaging 24.8 points and 7.2 assists in 50 games. The following year, Iverson averaged 26.4 points and 7.1 assists, but the Nuggets lost in the first round again. It was after this season that the Nuggets looked to change up their team dynamic.
Detroit Pistons 2008-2009
After playing three games, Iverson was dealt with the Detroit Pistons for Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess, and Cheikh Samp. It was ultimately the right decision for the Nuggets as Billups led the team in win shares and the Nuggets made an appearance in the Conference Finals. As for Iverson, he would score at least 24 points in four of his first five games. He would consistently score 20 points with six or more assists, but as the season progressed, he saw his playing time decrease in favor of Rodney Stuckey.
At the time, fans speculated that Pistons President of Basketball of Operations Joe Dumars did not see Iverson as a long-term fit for the team. Iverson was 33 years old at the time, but he made the All-Star team. Iverson owned an expiring contract but was not moved before the trade deadline. Instead, the team waited until April 3 to announce he would not play the remainder of the season. Iverson had an ongoing back injury, although it was reported two days before that Iverson would rather retire than move to the bench.
Memphis Grizzlies 2009
Before the 2009-2010 season, Iverson signed a one-year contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. It would ultimately be the final year that Iverson played in the league. Iverson was clearly on the decline after averaging 17.4 points, which was the worst of his career. Iverson thought that the Grizzlies were a good fit, but he loathed coming off the bench. Through three games, Iverson was averaging 12.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 22.3 minutes per game.
It was later announced that Iverson mutually agreed to leave the team. Reports speculated that Iverson was ready to retire, but Iverson diminished those rumors and eventually returned to his former team in Philadelphia less than a week later. The 76ers pursued Iverson as a replacement for Lou Williams after he broke his jaw and was expected to miss 30 games.
Philadelphia 76ers 2009-2010
In his first game back, Iverson returned to a thunderous ovation from the sold-out crowd against his other former team in the Nuggets. Iverson scored just 11 points. Iverson helped the 76ers later break a 12-game losing streak, which was nine games before he signed, by shooting 70% from the field in a 20-point effort against the Golden State Warriors.
Iverson finished the year being voted as a starter for the All-Star Game for the 11th straight season. His final game would be just a few weeks later for a personal matter, which was later revealed that his four-year-old son was diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease. His final game would be February 20 against the Chicago Bulls with 13 points.