Allen Iverson's journey before he played in his first college and NBA game was incredibly interesting and, for the lack of better words, extraordinary. He was one of the country's most well-known high school players at the time, with numerous college offers for both football and basketball scholarship, which was the ultimate proof of how truly remarkable of an athlete Iverson was back in the day.
Iverson's life almost took a wrong turn after a bowling alley incident
Young Iverson was an electrifying athlete in both of these sports, and crowds gathered on a football field or a basketball gym to see this barely 6 feet tall kid dominate his opponents in a way regular people couldn't comprehend. His quickness, speed, and strength, which were unbelievable for someone of his size, were spectacular. On top of that, his absolute hunger to outplay his opponents was absolutely brilliant and rarely seen in sports for kids his age.
However, the infamous bowling alley incident that happened in February of 1993 resulted in Iverson being convicted of a felony charge as an adult for assaulting a woman with a chair, potentially jeopardizing the bright future that was ahead of him. Iverson soon found himself in a correctional facility doing time, missing his senior year of high school, but luckily for him, he was released for insufficient evidence. That meant Iverson was free, but all those scholarship offers and interest suddenly disappeared except for one from the Georgetown University basketball program led by the legendary coach John Thompson.
He put on a show at the summer league tournament
Before starting his journey as a Georgetown Hoya, Iverson participated in a tournament called Kenner League at Georgetown that included a lot of great college, high school, and even some professional players. There was real excitement among the crowd for seeing Iverson finally in a situation that felt so familiar and yet most comfortable for him, and in this case, it was the basketball court showcasing his talents.
In a book by Kent Babb, "Not a Game," it was detailed what type of hype was felt in the gym when Iverson made his first basket, and the crowd noticed they were witnessing a future NBA HOF putting on a show. Iverson finished the game with 40 points, looking absolutely ready for college basketball despite not being previously consistent in practicing or playing because of his time behind bars.
"Iverson was granted parole in late July 1994, just in time for him to participate in the Kenner League at Georgetown, a summer league in which high school, college, and professional players compete against each other in a three-day event. The tournament's director, Eddie Saah, noticed Iverson before the opening game and ran outside to fetch him a jersey, and when the game began, and Iverson hit a three-pointer, Saah shouted into the microphone—"Allen Iverson!"—and felt an immediate buzz in the crowd. Iverson scored forty points that night, dazzling the maybe eight hundred people in the crowd."
The crowds came out in big numbers just to see Iverson play
It didn't take long for people to spread the word about the epic performance Iverson had in his first game, which resulted in over 3 thousand more people in the gym in the upcoming days of the tournament. All of them came to watch Iverson, and interestingly enough, one of the people in attendance was a former center for the Hoyas, the legendary NBA player Dikembe Mutombo who wanted to see a glimpse of Iverson's talent and understand the reason behind all the hype around him at the time. Iverson continued dominating other teams and opposing players and led his squad to the championship, showcasing he could compete against anyone.
"The next day, three thousand were on hand, leaving an impression on Williams. "The whole ghetto came out to watch," he said, and on the final day, four thousand were packed into the 2,400-seat McDonough Gymnasium. Eight rows back was Mutombo, trying to catch a glimpse of his alma mater's future. Iverson scored ninety-nine points in three games, leading his squad, the Tombs, to the tournament championship, and soon everyone wanted to know about the new kid's limits, assuming he had any. "He doesn't get tired," an exhausted Morgan State University player said after guarding Iverson during the tournament."
The fans showed Iverson love and support during the tournament, and it served as a good reminder for everyone to see how truly talented Iverson was as an athlete and competitor. Soon after the tournament, Iverson joined the Hoyas and started his college journey, and coach Thompson proved to be the right person for Iverson to help him to get adjusted and also provide him mentorship he needed at the time, especially after experiencing such challenging circumstances at life that most other kids would have a hard time recovering from. This time he had a stable situation and structure in a school with a great basketball program which he benefited greatly from before getting drafted into the NBA.