Allen Iverson was one of the best to ever do it.
An 11-time NBA All-Star, Iverson finished his career averaging 26.7 points per game, the sixth-best career scoring mark in NBA league history. He left an undeniable imprint on homes across the world because his career was lived on his own terms.
“He was very influential,” Sacramento Kings swingman, Trevor Ariza told me.
“When I was growing up, I used to have the braids. I think I bought all of his kicks that ever came out. What he brought to the game made me love the game the way that I love it. He was amazing for a lot of years. I think he definitely changed the culture of the NBA.”
“That was a role model that I looked up to being a small guy, being fast,” Washington Wizards point guard John Wall told me.
“He scored the ball and had the heart that he kinda had. What he did for this league, everybody wanted to wear braids, everybody wanted to have tattoos and the arm sleeves. He was a big role model, that was the guy that I looked up to.”
Iverson was fascinating to players. But what was it like covering The Answer as an NBA writer?
To that, we turn to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith who covered AI as a columnist and beat writer with the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper.
“Me personally, I’ve always had my personal code,” Stephen A. Smith told Power 105’s The Breakfast Club on Thursday.
“Your personal life is your business unless it ends up in the police blotter. If it ends up in the police blotter or you put your personal business out there…
“What goes on in the privacy of your home is your damn business that’s always been my mentality. Just don’t let it get public because once it gets public, it’s open season. Okay? Because I’m not going to get left holding the bag like: ‘I don’t know what the hell is going on.’ And so he always understood that and a lotta times when we would butt heads, it was crazy but when we would butt heads, it was usually because I used to tell him this ‘It’s your fault.’
“I said: ‘It ain’t just because of what you do. You wasn’t around to tell the story.’ Your sport is my domain. No one is going to tell me what you do on the court. If you shoot 2 for 20, that’s what you did. You ain’t gonna tell me: ‘that was the coach.’ Hell no, I watched you jack up air balls. You ain’t getting away with that. But, if something is going on in your private life, that’s your story to tell. But if you allow some of it to get out and you don’t talk about it, the worst thing you can do with me is be inaccessible because then you’re giving me the license to speculate, you’re giving me the license to go to different avenues to find this information and you did that to yourself because I wasn’t looking for that story and I’m not trying to write that story. I’m trying to focus on the game. But when you see stuff that affects the game, that’s the kind of stuff that you’ve got to point to.”
Allen Iverson was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player during the 2000-01 season.
He took the Sixers to the NBA Finals that same season where they lost to the eventual champion, the Los Angeles Lakers. He officially announced his retirement on October 30, 2013.
Iverson’s number 3 jersey was retired in 2014.