While in practice Allen Iverson has been retired for a few seasons — because NBA teams stopped paying him — he never formally sent in the paperwork. He held out hope.
Now Iverson is going to officially retire. We should use that time to remember a guy who changed the game, so we’re running some of his career highlights. But they don’t seem to do the man justice.
Part of what he brought was on the court where there was no more electric a player in his generation — he was a guy you paid to watch. He was a guy the size of most of the men in the arena but one who played with a fearless style that had him always attacking. There was the wicked crossover and a jumper you had to respect. The result was an NBA MVP, 11 trips to the All-Star Game, 26.7 points, 6.2 assists and 2.2 steals a game. He is a Hall of Fame lock.
Off the court he brought hip hop culture front and center in the sport. He helped make it okay for the players — then and today — to be who they are and show that. Where Michael Jordan worked on keeping a clean image (something corporate America loved) and keeping the public at an arm’s length, Iverson wore who he was on his sleeve. He was raw. He didn’t shy away from controversy. He refused to fit into the mold. He made others want to be like him.
For all those reasons, Iverson changed the game. He will be missed.