Often known as “The Answer” or simply AI, Allen Iverson overcame immense adversity as a kid. His family was poor and the basketball prodigy was ridiculed in high school for his brash and cocky attitude.
Before he could even finish high school, Iverson was incarcerated for a fight at a local bowling alley. After being released from prison, Iverson had a chip on his shoulder. Never again did he want to be punished for being who he was. But before he could do that, he needed to hone his skills as an athlete.
Pat Croce, the former owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, knew he was taking a gamble on drafting Allen Iverson with the number one pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. But there was no denying Iverson’s talents. That gamble took a struggling team to unexpected heights.
Iverson completely transformed and revitalized the franchise in his first year alone. His stats were incredible. He broke records that hadn’t been accomplished before by any member of the Sixers, let alone a rookie. He was so good, he was able to take on the league’s top teams and the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan.
Following his stellar first year, was awarded the 1997 Rookie of the Year. It was clear that Iverson had established his footing as the Sixers’ “Answer” and as one of the top players in the game. The accolades kept rolling in as his success kept growing on and off the court.
11 All Star Appearances.
3 Scoring Titles.
2001 League MVP.
By the time Michael Jordan finally retired, Iverson was one biggest names in basketball. He was leading the way in ushering the Hip Hop era into the NBA. Along with his patented cross-over, he was the first pro player to play with cornrows, multiple tattoos, and he trademarked the special basketball sleeves (initially for an injury) which soon become a fashion trend amongst players and fans.
Although his behaviour was often ridiculed by critics, Iverson was committed to blazing his own path:
“I don’t wanna be Jordan, I don’t wanna be Magic, I don’t wanna be Bird or Isiah. I don’t wanna be any of those guys. When my career’s over, I want to look in the mirror and say I did it my way.” – Allen Iverson
Regardless of how he was portrayed by the media or critics for his behaviour, one thing was certain: Iverson was incredibly talented.
Iverson left everything on the court and played like every game was his last. Today, players do their best to emulate his style of play, his look, and his heart.
“He changed the way we play ball. He changed the culture of ball. He is pound for pound the best. He paved the way. I can go on and on. But he’s a legend and I’m just walking the path he created.” – Kevin Durant, current league MVP
Allen Iverson was irreplaceable from the very first time he stepped foot on the court.
If you want to be a trailblazer like him, you first need to establish your footing. With the immense competition out there, you need to carve your own path to the top of the mountain and showcase why you deserve to stay there, regardless of who you are and where you may come from. Let your talent and skill lead the way
Image Credit: Reddit