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Gilbert Arenas explains why Allen Iverson was the hardest player he ever had to play against in the NBA

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Kobe Bryant once said that if Allen Iverson were 6’5,” everybody in the NBA would be in a lot of trouble. Iverson is still to this day one of the best pure scorers in the league’s history, and if players knew that it was their assignment to chase him around, they were in for a long night of hard work on defense. Numerous NBA players testified on the greatness of Iverson, but it’s always great to hear when they give a more detailed insight into the approach he had during games and everything he did on the basketball court to make him so unguardable.

Gilbert Arenas was another great guard who could light any team up with 30 points without breaking a sweat, and he had the opportunity to face Iverson multiple times in his career. When coming into the NBA as an undersized guard, Arenas studied what Iverson did and tried to replicate it as much as possible while at the same time adding his own flavor to the game.

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While Arenas played for the Washington Wizards during their heated matchups, Iverson often outperformed Arenas, who concluded that he was the toughest player he ever had to guard. Arenas describe Iverson as a relentless player ready to do whatever it takes to win, which was his mindset ever since he came to the NBA. One of the most significant differences between the two is that Iverson was doing that for over a decade, while Arenas only had 3-4 seasons that could match that. 

Allen Iverson was the hardest person I had to guard. What made Allen Iverson so hard to guard was, you know you had that one white boy on every team that has no talent, goes balls out all day. Like he's going to run through the scoreboard, he's going to be breathing and sweating on you, that one dude that when you're the star and coach puts him on you to slow you down, that was his mentality….but he was a star. So he's going to dive into the stands, and he just never stopped.

Gilbert Arenas

Iverson had several great games against Arenas, scoring 30 or 40 points with ease, which forced Arenas to change his approach when preparing for a game against him. Iverson one of the rare players in the NBA who had the green light to shot in almost every situation during the game, which resulted in him taking 25-30 shots on a nightly basis. That is the same strategy that Kobe Bryant used to wear down his opponents. Arenas said Iverson had the mentality to score 60 points every game, which means that you better come prepared and rested if you are guarding him.

He was trying to score 60 every game. You had to go to sleep early the night before, you go to bed like, I really don't wanna guard this dude all damn game, because he had the ultra, ultra-green. You have a player that there is no ten bad shots in a row, sub his ass out, no, those ten bad shots gonna come with ten more ones. So he was the hardest to defend.

Gilbert Arenas


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