Allen Iverson: Congratulations and Good Luck

The Philadelphia 76ers retired the jersey of Allen Iverson last night.  The #3 will no longer be worn by anyone else that plays for the team.  Only a select few players receive this honor.  In our team history the players are Hal Greer, Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, Bobby Jones, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley and Maurice Cheeks.  I watched all of these players except Hal Greer.  I only saw Wilt Chamberlain when he played for the L.A. Lakers but as an Overbrook H.S. graduate his Philly roots are true.

A.I. was the #1 pick in the 1996 draft.  He played two seasons at Georgetown University in which his quickness and ability to score were evident.  He was the Big East Rookie of the year during his freshman year.  While in Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia he led his football and basketball teams to state championships during his junior year.  He was the Associated Press Player of the year in both sports during his senior year.  I can imagine some of the guys who were trying to tackle him in football.  He was only 165 pounds and some linebackers probably cursed at their inability to bring him down.

The 1996 NBA Draft will have to go down as one of the greatest groups of talent ever assembled.  Some of the players selected in that year were Marcus Camby, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Jermaine O'Neal.  Malik Rose, a Drexel graduate, was selected in the second round and he won championships with the San Antonio Spurs.  Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant are future Hall of Famers.  I think that if A.I. had taken care of himself a little better, he would have still been in the league.  One of his hangouts was the TGI Fridays on City Avenue and he did have a legendary rant about practice when he was called to task by Coach Larry Brown.

The one thing I will cherish about A.I. was his heart.  He did not fear going into the lane to finish shots.  He took hard fouls and got back up and usually sank the foul shots.  His motor was tireless.  He won four scoring titles and his career average of 26.7 points per game is still in the top ten of all time.  He was the Most Valuable Player of the league in the 2001 season.  He led the 76ers to the NBA Finals in which we lost to the Los Angeles Lakers duo of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.  We had Dikembe Mutombo, Tyrone Hill, George Lynch, Aaron McKie and Eric Snow but their size proved to bee too much.  I enjoyed the series against the Toronto Raptors which featured Vince Carter at the time.  He and A.I. put up super scoring numbers and kept the fans cheering for more.  The series against the Milwaukee Bucks which featured Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson was epic also.

Allen Iverson's personal life has taken a hit recently.  His high school sweetheart, Tawana, filed for divorce recently.  He has had some financial troubles after earning almost $100 million during his career.  I was shocked by his need to cover his body with tattoos.  He never wanted to give up his trademark cornrows and he had a hard time conforming to the NBA dress code.  I wonder if he is cut out for coaching.  Brian Shaw is not coaching the Denver Nuggets.  Sam Cassell is an assistant coach.  Jason Kidd is coaching the Brooklyn Nets.   Someday he might have to put on a suit again.  He indicated last night that he is a 76er forever.  The way that we are playing, I wish that were true and that he could put in 26 a game for us right now.  Congratulations A.I. and I wish you good luck in your future pursuits. 

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