Allen Iverson forged an arsenal of highlights during his 14-year NBA career. A time full of poster-like finishes, ankle-breaking moves, and plenty of flair that made the Philadelphia 76ers icon such a fan favorite.
These are the 10 best moments of his illustrious Hall of Fame NBA career.
10. Iverson gets his Sixers jersey retired (2014)
This was a window into Allen Iverson the legend, the player and the person so many in Philadelphia fell in love with during his long tenure with the Sixers.
Everything in this ceremony was touching, from Larry Brown’s opening words of tribute to longtime confidant Pat Croce dropping great anecdotes for the fans. Iverson’s palpable emotions truly asserted what the fans knew about him from the start — he was a player that played from the heart and did so until his very last stint with the franchise.
A former No. 1 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, he averaged 26.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 2.2 steals for his 14-year career in the league, last enjoying a 25-game stint with the Sixers in the 2009-10 season, the last few games he would play in the NBA.
Brash, stylish, and unapologetic — that was Iverson’s way from start to finish. While many stars clean up plenty for their retirement ceremony, Iverson showed up in a hooded coat, a top hat, shiny earrings, and bling hanging down his neck — true to himself until the last day.
9. Iverson scores 50 points as a rookie vs. Cavs (1997)
Allen Iverson had already entered the NBA with high expectations, but he had to shatter those to become a star. On April 12, 1997, he scored 50 points in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the most points scored by a rookie in the decorated 1996 NBA Draft Class.
He shot 17-of-32 from the field, connected on 5-of-9 threes and sunk 11-of-18 from the foul line, adding five rebounds and six assists on the night.
Iverson gave the Cavs defense fits, lighting them up from distance and slithering his way into the paint all night long. That 50-point game gave Iverson four straight games scoring 40 or more points, one that would eventually extend to five, breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s rookie record.
8. Iverson wins the Rookie of the Year award (1997)
Allen Iverson was part of an outstandingly talented draft class that included prodigies like Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Ray Allen. Yet by season’s end, he was the clear winner among them all with averages of 23.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 2.1 steals per game.
He was the sixth-best scorer in his first year in the league and also seventh in steals and 11th in assists — quite the gaudy marks for a first-year player.
Considering the company of Hall of Famers that adorned that lauded 1996 NBA Draft class, this feat is one that would propel his 14 years in the league.
7. Iverson wins the 2005 All-Star MVP award
In the midst of a LeBron James and Dwight Howard frenzy, Iverson showed he still was the man with a scintillating performance to give the East a 125-115 victory.
Allen Iverson totaled 15 points, 10 assists, and five steals in the game despite feeling “woozy and lightheaded,” according to a post-game report by The Associated Press — likely due to the altitude in Denver, a city he would soon play for.
The 6-foot All-Star dimed out eight different players, stole an alley-oop pass from Steve Nash, and was happy to dole out helpers all game long, taking matters into his own hands late in the game to put the finishing touches.
6. Iverson scores career-high 60 points vs. Magic (2005)
Any true Allen Iverson fan has this game recorded in a DVR or a VHS tape of it somewhere. The Virginia native gave the Orlando Magic the business end of a scoring barrage while battling for a playoff spot.
Iverson had 40 points after a buzzer-beating three in the third quarter and poured in the final 20 in the fourth quarter while cooking Jameer Nelson with a slew of stop-and-pop pull-up jumpers. He made the free-throw line his meal ticket, burying 24-of-27 at the stripe, including his last two, to the delight of the Wells Fargo Center crowd.
5. The “practice” rant
A moment that will stick with Iverson forever, even after his jersey retirement and Hall of Fame induction. This was a viral moment before social media like Twitter and Instagram existed. It became part of every talk show, news show, and a joke in every newspaper column.
The formerly-crowned MVP was bounced out of the playoffs in the first round only a year after reaching the NBA Finals, and many around the media resorted to ask Iverson about his practice habits after an infamous shouting match with head coach Larry Brown. That sparked the answer that many to date still vigorously quote:
“We’re sitting in here, and I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean, listen, we’re talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talking about practice. Not a game. Not, not … Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game, but we’re talking about practice, man. I mean, how silly is that?”
One unknown about this viral moment is that Iverson was reeling from losing his best friend, Rahsaan Langford, who was shot and killed seven months before — and he was still very emotional and conflicted throughout that 2001-02 season, as the 2014 documentary “Iverson” explained in depth.
4. Iverson wins the 2001 All-Star MVP award
This is the most important one of the two, considering it was his first and fell in the same year in which he won the MVP.
Allen Iverson made All-Star Game legend by reminding us that the G in the ASG stands for “game” and it’s meant to be played as such.
Trailing by 21 points entering the fourth quarter, Iverson scored 15 of his 25 points in the final frame in a comeback worthy of Guile’s stage music, helping the East rally to a 111-110 win.
3. Iverson is named 2000-01 NBA MVP
Allen Iverson hit the ground running in his fifth season in the league, leading the NBA in points (31.1 per game) and steals (2.5) while playing massive minutes (42) through 71 games.
Iverson had 93 first-place votes to his name, vastly outclassing second-place vote-getter Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs, who mustered only 18. The 1999-00 MVP, Shaquille O’Neal, finished third with seven votes.
To this day, Iverson is the shortest MVP in league history, standing at an even 6-foot, and the first 76er since Moses Malone (1982-83) to win the prized regular-season award.
2. Iverson scores 48 points in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals
Allen Iverson played a small, but nonetheless important part in the Los Angeles Lakers three-peat dynasty. He posted 48 points, five assists, and six steals to give the Sixers a 1-0 series lead over the heavily-favored Lakers, stunning the NBA world with every loud bucket.
It was in this game where he also dropped Tyronn Lue with a killer step-back crossover (watch at the 6:38 mark) — back then a young player known for his defense — while nailing a feathery corner jumper to seal a 107-103 win over the Lakers.
Los Angeles would storm back to win the next four games and the NBA title, but this Game 1 was the true display of his all-heart performance against a supergiant.
1. Iverson crosses Jordan over
While Allen Iverson has many highlights to his name, none are more memorable than his crossover on Michael Jordan during the 1996-97 season.
This was Jordan at the peak of his powers, fully aware of the force Iverson would become in this league — but he didn’t know he would become one so soon. Iverson was eager to go against his idol and he quickly put himself in his radar, burying an 18-footer after leaving him reaching for the steal.
“I gave him a little cross to see would he bite on it?” recalled Iverson of the moment. “Then let him set his feet, then stepped him back again.”
The moment was the stuff legends are made of.
Iverson had a deep respect and admiration for Jordan and was still willing to take him on. The two would go on to forge a strong relationship with each other over the rest of their careers.
To this day, Iverson still gives Jordan props for that play, because even he was shaken by the crossover “he still almost blocked it.”