Allen Iverson was one of the most beloved athletes to ever play in Philadelphia. The “6-2 guard from Georgetown” as he was affectionately known during introductions at Sixers games dictated everything on his own terms — on and off the court.
While Iverson did it in a different sport, he has drawn unexpected comparisons to another undersized star: Baker Mayfield. NFL Network’s Kyle Brandt — the undisputed king of the Philly sports fan club — jumped on his soapbox to point out that the similarities between Iverson and Mayfield are uncanny during a recent episode of “Good Morning Football” on NFL Network.
“I look at Baker Mayfield as an Allen Iverson type,” said Brandt. “He came in the league and it was different. There were stories on an All-Star break where some of the stars in the league, including the biggest ones, said this is not how it’s done and he said, ‘What are you talking about, get the hell out of my face’ and he walked out of the room.”
Iverson was listed as a 6-foot-2 guard, per his request to Sixers announcer Matt Cord, but the diminutive guard was only 6-foot. Mayfield is listed at 6-foot-1, well below the standard height requirement for a starting quarterback in the NFL. It’s their swagger and “unapologetic” attitude that puts the two in the same conversation.
“Look, Baker planted the flag at Ohio State’s field and he was asked about it and he said, ‘You know, they whooped our ass the year before, so what do you want from me,'” Brandt said. “There’s an unapologetic value to him as a leader that breaks the wheel. My advice to him is to change nothing.”
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The Iverson nostalgia has been rampant in recent weeks as the 17-year anniversary (May 7, 2002) of his infamous “Practice Rant” made its rounds on social media. ESPN even re-aired an in-depth “30-for-30” documentary, with a good chunk of it centered around his high school football career.
Iverson was a standout quarterback at Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia. In high school, he played against future NFL stars Michael Vick and Ronald Curry — and he was superior to everyone. As a junior in 1992, Iverson led Bethel to a state championship and was named Virginia’s High School Football Player of the Year.
“I played against some great ones in 21 years,” a rival high school coach told VICE Sports. But he was the best that we played against, no question about it. I feel like anytime he put his hand on the ball, he was capable of taking it to the house.”
“We were on him hard,” former Florida State assistant coach Chuck Amato told VICE Sports. “He was just a great athlete and a competitor. He would’ve been the first Michael Vick.”
Long story short, Iverson chose basketball over football and enjoyed a storied career with the Philadelphia 76ers. In 2016, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame after averaging 26.7 points and 6.2 assists per game in a 14-year career. He recently celebrated his 44th birthday by posting an Instagram video where he says, “Football is like, my favorite sport.”
There will only be one Allen Iverson. That’s just a fact. But, Baker Mayfield should be proud to be compared to him and put in his humble company.