Ex-76ers GM Billy King Had to Hide Allen Iverson's Jersey so He Wouldn't Play Injured

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 9, 2021

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 13:  Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers gestures during the game against the New York Knicks on January 13, 2010 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Knicks won 93-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2010 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Former Philadelphia 76ers general manager Billy King said the organization had to use some unique tactics to keep Hall of Fame point guard Allen Iverson from trying to play through injuries.

"When he was injured and we knew he couldn't play we used to hide his jersey," King said Friday on the Audacy NBA Show. "Because he would come to the locker room looking for his jersey, we'd lock it somewhere so he couldn't get it."

He provided an example from when the Sixers were preparing to face off with the New York Knicks.

"One time, in New York, he found his jersey but didn't have any shoes," King said. "He was trying to send the ball boy to the Foot Locker around the corner. He said, 'Just give me a pair of their Reeboks. I can play in those.' Then he pointed to an attendant, 'What size are you? Just give me those shoes,' because he wanted to play so bad."

Iverson is one of the toughest players to ever step on an NBA floor.

The first overall pick in the 1996 draft was listed at 6'0'', 165 pounds, and even that might have been a little generous. Yet, night after night he attacked the rim, took a beating from post-players who often had height and weight on him and kept coming back for more.

His fearless style led to numerous accolades, led by the 2000-01 NBA MVP Award, 11 All-Star appearances, four scoring titles and three All-NBA First Team selections. His No. 3 jersey number has been retired by the Sixers.

It's interesting to wonder how much Iverson could have dominated in the less-physical modern era, where there are a lot fewer traditional centers clogging the lane and with the pick-and-roll becoming an even larger staple of offenses with high-end point guards.

Add in the litany of shooters who would have likely surrounded him to space out the defense, and AI may have been an even bigger defensive nightmare than he already was in his prime in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

"Fun," Iverson told Jordan Brenner of The Athletic in 2019 about what playing in the modern NBA would have been like. "It would have been fun."

King's stories about how far Iverson was willing to go so he could play, even while injured, add to his legacy of toughness.

The Georgetown product last played in the NBA in 2010, and he was a first-ballot inductee in the Hall of Fame as part of its 2016 class.