Allen Iverson was one of the most influential athletes of our time and, without a doubt, a great and dominant basketball player. He was a true icon who, despite being the smallest player on the court, had the biggest heart and played in a way that would have fans looking at him in awe for some of the things he was capable of doing. Iverson’s passion and competitiveness were through the roof, and he carried the Philadelphia 76ers during those years on his shoulders, never asking for help and always accepting a challenge no matter what the outcome would be.
In a recent interview, former 76ers GM Billy King shared a story about Iverson that perfectly depicts his character and why he was a fan favorite ever since he came to the NBA. Iverson rarely missed games, but even when he was injured, he wanted to play so badly they had to hide the jersey from him to prevent him from playing injured.
When he was injured, and we knew he couldn’t play, we used to hide his jersey. Because he would come to the locker room looking for his jersey, we’d lock it somewhere so he couldn’t get it….One time, in New York, he found his jersey but didn’t have any shoes. 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.Billy King, via Audacy/John Healy
Iverson was determined to showcase his god-given ability any way he could to help his team and put them in a situation to win games. That mindset is almost gone in today’s NBA, and players frequently sit out games even when they are healthy, which causes frustrations for fans who pay hefty prices for tickets to see their favorite players perform. Iverson knew his obligation was to represent and help his team in any way he can, which he did for over a decade playing for the Sixers. That resulted in the MVP award back in 2001, but unfortunately, the Sixers were never capable of surrounding him with enough firepower to win a championship.