Retired Philadelphia 76ers superstar Allen Iverson will reportedly be eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame's 2016 class. NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper reported the news Saturday, indicating the 11-time NBA All-Star's 10-game stint with Turkish Basketball League squad Besiktas wouldn't count against his eligibility.
The last time Iverson suited up in the NBA was the 2009-10 season, when he returned to Philadelphia for 25 games after several years in Denver and brief stints in Detroit and Memphis. Hall of Fame candidates have to be retired for five full years before they can be enshrined.
He only officially retired in October 2013, but since Iverson has been removed from the NBA long enough, Saturday's news has him on an expedited track to Springfield, Massachusetts.
Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James has spoken of how he idolized Iverson before making his own mark in the Association, comparing Iverson's impact to that of Michael Jordan's.
"Pound-for-pound, probably the greatest player who ever played," said James of Iverson, per ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh. "... He was one of the greatest finishers we've ever seen. You could never question his heart. Ever. He gave it his all. A.I. was like my second-favorite player growing up, after MJ."
Hoops Critic's Josh Eberley ranks Iverson among the 40 greatest players of all time:
Iverson won the league MVP award in 2001 when he had 11.8 win shares, averaged 31.1 points and then put up 32.9 points per contest in the playoffs, guiding the Sixers to the NBA Finals.
Although the team lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, Iverson helped his underdog squad steal Game 1 with 48 points. His performance was highlighted by an iconic moment in which he stepped over Lakers point guard Tyronn Lue after hitting a key jump shot in overtime.
The Sixers leaned heavily on Iverson throughout his prime, evident in his career usage rate of 31.83, which is in the top five of all time and peaked in the 2001-02 campaign at 37.8.
That was the closest Iverson ever got to hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy, but his competitive fire and toughness, explosive scoring ability and outspoken nature made him a modern NBA legend. It stands to reason he could well be a first-ballot Hall of Famer with his eligibility reportedly alive.
The Hall of Fame just welcomed 11 new members Friday, per the Associated Press, via ESPN.com. If a similar-sized class enters Springfield next year, Iverson ought to find a place among the group based on the impact he made in Philadelphia and in pro basketball overall.
Note: Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.