Is Allen Iverson One of the 20 Greatest NBA Players Ever?

Jake TannerContributor IApril 10, 2010

Since Allen Iverson's recent indefinite leave from the NBA many believe that his career is over and he will not play ever again. It isn't hard to believe this because after all the hell he has gone through in the past year it has to be hard to want to play.

It is sad that such a brilliant career had to end this way and since the trade to Detroit some people may have forgot about how good this guy was once. His career is filled with amazing accomplishments and he is a first ballot Hall of Famer but is Allen Iverson one of the 20 greatest players to ever play the game? 

Although he did not win a championship (wasn't really given a fair chance) he accomplished too many things to be kept out of the top 20 all-time list. If you are an Allen Iverson hater you would probably try saying he isn't top 20 ever but deep down anyone that has watched basketball for the past 12 years knows that he is.

So if you want to make a fair judgement here is a tip for the haters: When you rank Allen Iverson forget about his tattoos, cornrows, his hip-hop culture and forget about the things he did off the court because when you rank a player you don't rank them based on what they did off the basketball court its about what you do when you are on the court and on the court Allen Iverson proved to be one of the greatest players ever. 

The Philadelphia Sixers selected Iverson with the first pick in the star studded 1996 NBA Draft and he made an immediate impact. Iverson averaged about 24 ppg and 8 apg in his rookie year and was a problem for every defense in the league, he was probably the quickest player the league had ever seen.

Iverson accomplished a lot in his career. He was the 1996 Rookie of The Year, an 11-time NBA All-Star, two-time NBA All-Star game MVP, three-time steals champion, seven-time All-NBA selection (despite being on bad teams), four-time NBA Scoring champion (only three other players have done that), and the 2001 NBA MVP (one of the greatest individual seasons in NBA history). A

s far as accomplishments and awards go, Allen Iverson did it all but what was really impressive was his stats. 

Iverson averaged an amazing 27 ppg (sixth all-time)for his career along with 6.2 assists and 2.2 spg. He also averaged 30 ppg for his career in the playoffs (second to Michael Jordan). In just 914 career games he played an impressive 37,584 minutes and scored an amazing 24,368 career points he also had 5,624 career assists and 1,983 career steals. 4 time he averaged at least 30 ppg and 10 out of his 13 and a half years in the NBA he averaged at least 26 ppg.

Iverson's numbers speak for themselves and they are nothing short of amazing. Statistically Allen Iverson is the best player since Michael Jordan. Imagine if Detroit never held AI back and tarnished his image chances are Iverson would probably still be averaging at least 25 ppg and leading a team to the Playoffs. 

There are not 20 players in the history of the NBA that have accomplished all the things he has been able to accomplish in his career. What's even more amazing is that accomplished all these things at just 6 feet tall! Hands down he is the greatest little man to ever play the game and pound for pound is probably the greatest player ever. A

llen Iverson did not win a championship but a lot of that can be blamed on the Philadelphia management. When Iverson was in his prime from about 1999-2006 he didn't have much help around him. All the championship teams of the past decade have had a great one-two punch and a great bench, or future Hall of Famers and superstars all on one team.

Iverson was not given that kind of help at all in his first tenure with the Sixers, and what is amazing is he still took the Sixers to the Finals in 2001. He lead a bunch of scrubs to the Finals and even won a game for them imagine what he could have done if he had a dominant post player or another superstar on his team.

Yes, Iverson did have Carmelo Anthony in Denver but that was not a good fit because it turned into an offence only team with all the scorers they had on the floor and no defense was played.

In Detroit, Iverson was ruined and destroyed even though he sacrificed his stats the Pistons failed to use him correctly which is sad because they had the talent to win a championship that season.

The one thing he failed to do was win a championship but there are other players who are top 20 players of all-time that have not won a championship hell there are players who are top 10 all-time and haven't won a championship so there is no reason not to put Iverson in the top 20 players ever.

Iverson is one of the most talented players ever he had abilities that not many players have had. Iverson was one of the greatest scorers ever and not many players could put the ball in the hoop like he could. The 2000-2005 Allen Iverson is probably the quickest player in NBA history and he had the abilities to take games over anytime he wanted to.

Iverson had the best crossover the league has ever seen there are not many players that haven't been shook by AI, the crossover on Michael Jordan will never be forgotten. Many players in the league have said Iverson is the hardest player they have ever had to guard, they said guarding Iverson was like trying to hold water in your hands. H

e played harder than anyone ever has and was fearless. Despite being just 6 feet tall Iverson attacked the basket every chance he got. He averaged 9 free throw attempts per game for his career and has attempted 6,375 career free throws which is 10th all-time (only player under 6'3" on the list). 

Based on career accomplishments, talent and statistics I have made a list of the 20 greatest players to ever play: 

1. Michael Jordan

2. Bill Russell 

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

4. Wilt Chamberlain

5. Magic Johnson

6. Shaquille O'Neal 

7. Kobe Bryant

8. Larry Bird

9. Tim Duncan

10. Karl Malone

11. Oscar Robertson

12. Hakeem Olajuwon 

13. Bob Pettit

14. Elgin Balyor

15. Jerry West

16. Moses Malone

17. Bob Cousy

18. John Havlicek 

19. Allen Iverson

20. Charles Barkley 

This was a very difficult list to make but if you look at the careers of these players you will notice Allen Iverson has accomplished just as much or more than the guys on that list. Another reason he should be ranked higher is because he did so much with so little, even though he was just 6 feet tall he accomplished so much in the league.

Will this list change a lot? Yes. If LeBron James wins a championship this season or plays at the level he is now for two or three more years he will be considered top 20 All-Time. But as of today Allen Iverson has done more than many players to ever play the game. 

Many people may have forgotten about the amazing things Allen Iverson did in his career because he has been in some horrible situations through the past year.

Ever since the Detroit trade, the Pistons franchise trained the league's mind into thinking Iverson needs a reduced role which doesn't make sense because he was averaging 26.4 ppg and 7.2 apg on 50 win team in 2007-08 and with Detroit and the Sixers this year he was shooting much less, playing less minutes and getting less touches.

Chances are if Iverson were in the right situation right now he would still be averaging 25 ppg and leading a team to the Playoffs. 

The Detroit Pistons franchise may have ruined the ending to a brilliant career but they sure as hell didn't take anything away from the rest of his career. Pound for pound Allen Iverson is probably the greatest to ever play and he should go down as one of the 20 greatest players to ever play the game.

The accomplishments and numbers don't lie and about six years from now when Iverson is entering the Hall Of Fame and people are reminded of his accomplishments many people will agree that Allen Iverson is one of the 20 greatest players to ever play the game. 


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