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"Allen Iverson is Tupac with a jump shot"

Tupac Shakur & Allen Iverson

Cultural critic compares Iverson and Tupac in their impact

Allen Iverson and his impact on basketball and culture during his prime were compared to another great artist, the late great Tupac Shakur. They did completely different things in their careers, but the impact was the same, much more significant than many people might initially expect.

The similarity between two legends

In the mid-'90s, Allen Iverson came to fame even before his first professional NBA game. As a high-school prodigy in both basketball and football, Iverson received much attention from the media. Unfortunately, that attention would turn negative after the shooting at a bowling alley connected with him and his friends, which almost cost Iverson his future as a professional athlete.

Luckily, Iverson was enrolled in Georgetown University and was later the first pick in one of the most iconic draft classes of all time in 1996. Iverson soon took the league by storm, showcasing he is one of the best pure scorers in the NBA, culminating with the MVP award in 2001. By then, Iverson was a fashion and cultural icon because he brought 'the streets' and hip hop into the NBA in a big way, showing the incredible connection between the two.

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In that sense, cultural critic Michael Eric Dyson compared Iverson to another legendary artist Tupac Amaru Shakur. For him, the connection between the two lies in the fact they never wanted to hide who they are and where they're from in terms of their African-American background. Even after becoming globally recognized and successful, they never wanted to change their demeanor or present themselves in a different light they weren't accustomed to before their immense success.

"In a sense, Allen Iverson is Tupac with a jumpshot," says cultural critic Michael Eric Dyson. "Like Tupac, he carries his history with him. Usually, America says to somebody, If you want to be successful, you gotta be blanched, you gotta be whitewashed. This is the United States of Amnesia—we want to distance ourselves from everything. Get over your blackness. Now here comes this basketball player who understands that the ghetto is a portable metaphor for how he has faced odds and won. Like Tupac, he says to America, 'It's not that I've transformed—you have changed your understanding of what is capable of coming out of a black body from the ghetto with writing all over it and cornrows, the very things that once signified the worst elements of blackness to you.'"

They changed the game

Tupac came to fame before Iverson, and his life ended a month before Iverson played his first game in the NBA. However, you can say Iverson continued Tupac's journey in promoting a different perspective of a young black male from the ghetto that wasn't so prevalent in the mainstream at that time.

Corporate America at that time and even the NBA weren't able to handle or figure out someone who was seen as a role model to so many kids worldwide but looked 'inappropriate' by their old-fashioned standards. Instead, Iverson changed the game and gave the players more freedom to express themselves more freely on top of being impactful on how the game was played. Like Tupac, Iverson was seen as somewhat an outcast despite the incredible fame and fans worldwide, but their fans were always there for them and will carry their legacy long into the future.


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