Unlike in the MLB, NBA players are not formally associated with a specific team as they enter the Hall of Fame. However, when Allen Iverson is introduced into Springfield, Massachusetts in precisely 11 years, fans will remember him for baggy clothing, tattoos, missing practice, and being a Philadelphia 76er.
Entertaining, scrappy, troubled, underdog, confusing, incredible, frustrating, tough, selfish, smart, amazing, funny, remarkable, stupid, and revolutionary are all words which can describe the man often referred to as A.I.
A game did not go by where he did not dazzle the audience. From scooping lay-ups to unthinkable runners, fans from opposing cities went to Sixers games and made it a priority to view "The Answer."
His style of play was completely admired by the Philadelphia fans. The underdog status was obvious with his minute stature but huge heart. Diving for loose balls, and playing through injuries were a common occurrence.
Unfortunately, common occurrences also included arguments with the coach, and a missed practice or two.
Iverson was truly a revolutionary figure in the NBA. He ushered out the Michael Jordan era and ushered in the hip hop reign in the NBA. His game and off-court style changed the face of the 76ers franchise and the league.
Iverson's highlights as a Sixer include the No.1 overall selection, rookie of the year, regular season MVP, two time All-Star MVP, four time scoring champion, and leading the Sixers to the 2000-2001 NBA Finals.
Last year I attended Iverson's return to Philly, and described the spectacular reunion.
Wow! I am about to describe one of the most surreal and utterly fascinating events I have ever seen. Yes, Allen "The Answer" Iverson's return to Philadelphia, this time as a Denver Nugget. Here is a quick time line.
6:43 "The Denver Nuggets take the floor." Allen comes jogging out and already there is a ton of applause. No acknowledgment from Iverson, but we all know what is coming.
7:01 PA Announcer, "Ladies and gentlemen let's welcome back from Georgetown University, starting at guard, No. 3, Allen Iverson." Craziness ensues. I'm standing. 20,000 others are standing, clapping, yelling, admiring. It is really hard to put into words. The videos don't do the moment justice. The decibel level resembled that of a fighter jet taking off, seriously. Iverson proceeds to cup his hand to his ear, and it gets louder. Amazing!
Tonight, the Sixers face Iverson's new team the Detroit Pistons. It was weird to think of him as a Nugget, but now a Piston?
Ironically, the new face of the franchise, Elton Brand, will not be playing after suffering an injury against the Lakers. Needless to say as "A.I." drives the lane, a flood of memories will be brought back.
Iverson's contract expires after this season. Does "A.I." have any desire to be a Sixer again? Could he actually be the "Answer" for this team? Would the fan's welcome him back? Is it just wishful thinking on this fan's part?
Regardless of his future in the league, Allen Iverson will forever be remembered for rejuvenating the Philadelphia basketball scene, and donning that No.3 Sixers uniform.