One of the most iconic moments of Allen Iverson’s Hall of Fame career took place during his rookie season, in an otherwise meaningless regular season game against the NBA champion Chicago Bulls, but it was something no fan of the game will ever forget.
Iverson was just a rookie from Georgetown, playing on the Philadelphia 76ers, who were near the bottom of the Eastern Conference at the time. The Sixers lost that game despite Iverson being the top scorer, but for one moment, Philadelphia got a glimpse of its future with The Answer.
The Answer put the GOAT on skates and knocked down a fadeaway jumper. Iverson’s legendary crossover and jumper over Michael Jordan loudly announced his arrival.
It was extra special for Iverson because, like all the other kids who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Jordan was his hero, the player that made him want to play basketball. This wasn’t just a rookie getting his big moment against Michael Jordan, this was a kid getting his big moment against his hero.
Iverson recalled the moment:
I remember the first time I played against him, and I walked out on the court, and I looked at him, and for the first time in my life, a human being didn’t look real to me. No, I mean, like — I don’t know if y’all watch Chappelle’s Show, but he talked about a certain incident where somebody seen Rick James, and like I literally seen his aura. It looked like he was glowing. And I’m sitting there, and I’m saying to myself, like ‘Man, that’s Mike.’ And I’m looking at him — I can’t stop looking at him! I’m looking at his shoes, and I’m like, ‘Man, he got on the Jordans!’ I mean, it was Mike. It was my idol, it was my hero.”
Iverson spent much of his 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame speech discussing his affection for Jordan. Nowadays, the two are actually friends off the court, as they live in the same city.
“I live in Charlotte now, so I went to a Hornets game and he made sure I was straight at a Hornets game and we were in one of his offices,” Iverson says of the Hornets owner. “This was this year. I was in his office. It was just me and him and one of my friends, and I was just telling him how much he meant to me and how much I love him. And I don’t know if I can say it in here, but he was like, ‘MF, you don’t love me, you wouldn’t have crossed me like that.’ But that’s my man.”