And just like that, an end of an era.
"I would like to announce my plans to retire from the National Basketball Association," Iverson said to Stephen A. Smith, of ESPN and the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I always thought that when I left the game, it would be because I couldn't help my team the way that I was accustomed to. However, that is not the case."
By now, every city he was played for (and more) is talking about his legacy. But in particular, what legacy has he left on a certain team that picked him first overall in the 1996 NBA Draft? What legacy has he left on the Philadelphia Sixers and the city of Brotherly Love, most of all?
In Philadelphia, he will always be remembered as a warrior. He leaped for balls, splattered his body, heart, and soul onto the hard court, and never walked away (from a game.
He will always be remembered as a prolific scorer and league MVP. He won four scoring titles (1998-99; 2000-01; 2001-02; 2004-05), 10-time (seven with the Sixers) All-Star with two All-Star MVPs (2001 and 2005), and one NBA MVP (2000-01).
He will always be remembered for the last Sixers' championship run. With the chants for a fourth NBA title and BEAT LA! in the Wachovia Center, on billboards and signs throughout the city and suburbs, and the step-over PG Tyronne Lue in Game One of the NBA Finals.
And he will always be remembered for his selfishness. It was always "I"-verson, never the team. He never wanted a Robin to his Batman, a true sidekick—from Jerry Stackhouse, to Larry Hughes, to Glenn Robinson, to Chris Webber, to Andre Iguodala. Even with his career-average of 6.2 assists, none of these players ever shined with Iverson at the helm.
He drove out many head coaches, including the love-hate affair of head coach Larry Brown.
And may I remind you of his now-infamous quote, "Practice? We talking 'bout practice? Not a game, not a game...we talking about practice."
To the bitter-end, he feuded with his coaches, his organization, his city...his fans.
So maybe there were more headaches and heartbreaks from the "Answer" to Philadelphia then there were warmth and welcoming. But then, as the saying goes, "Don't read too much into things."
"And finally, to the city of Philadelphia," Iverson states. "I have wonderful memories of my days in a Sixers' uniform. To Philly fans, thank you. Your voice will always be music to my ears. God bless you all."
Maybe that's the "answer" we need to hear. Maybe on the eve of Thanksgiving, we need to be thankful for all he gave us and forgive and forget the bad.
After reading those words, maybe the love-hate relationship is what Philadelphia loves. Maybe there was more to cherish than to frown down.
He was our answer for the decade we had him.
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