Allen Iverson was so much more than a great basketball player. He also established himself as a cultural icon and epitomized a side of the NBA that wasn’t getting much recognition and love from the NBA management. Even before the Philadelphia 76ers drafted him, Iverson was a star and a recognized athlete who unfortunately had problems with the law that almost ruined his chances of becoming a professional NBA player. Iverson was unique in so many ways, and he stayed true to himself, representing the ‘streets’ in the way he carried himself and most certainly the way he played the game.
Iverson symbolized the close ties between the hip hop culture and basketball, often looking he just came from shooting a rap video when attending press conferences. He was the main reason former NBA commissioner David Stern implemented a dress code for all players and promoted a business culture more than the hood culture that Iverson embodied. The NBA leadership didn’t take too kind of Iverson because he was genuine, stayed connected with his roots and background, and was not your typical role model even though his impact was unparalleled.
According to another former NBA player and one of the most scrutinized players in NBA history, Kwame Brown, the NBA backstabbed Iverson on multiple occasions. Brown makes an interesting argument about how Iverson helped a lot of kids from the inner cities to start believing they could do more with their life than sell drugs or lead a lifestyle that is not good for their future. Iverson motivated them to pick up a basketball instead of any other sport because he set the example that you can make it no matter where you come from or what circumstances you had in your life. Iverson made the average kid believe they can also make it and be successful.
NBA was so upset with Allen Iverson, in my opinion. Allen Iverson looked like the environment he was around. Allen Iverson had guys that were holding weapons, dropping those f***ing guns, and picking up a ball because they knew his story. They knew he was really from the hood; they knew he went to jail. They knew he gave his life to that game and fought to get out of the hood. So the people were waking up thinking they can do it, and they kicked AI in the ass, no matter how good he played, no matter how hard he fought for his community.Kwame Brown, via Kwame Brown Bust Life
During his immense popularity, it seemed Iverson was always in some problems with the NBA and had constant conversations with David Stern on how to improve his public image towards the fans. The NBA wanted to change Iverson at all costs, even though the fans generally accepted him, with his popularity growing rapidly in the first few years in the league. If you were a kid growing up during those times, you admired Iverson at least in some way because he was different. However, that didn’t stop the media from looking negatively at Iverson, often diminishing his value.
Every damn story about this guy is negative, every story. They don’t want these kids from the hood to know they can do it.Kwame Brown, via Kwame Brown Bust Life
Iverson’s personality is one of the most recognizable in NBA history, and when you look at his life story and background, you can help but to give him at least respect. Growing up through adversity ever since he was a teen, being the most famous high-school athlete in the country, and then establishing himself as one of the most dynamic guards in NBA history.