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Once Upon A Time: Allen Iverson

October 27, 2010

We all know the story. Poor inner-city kid strides through adversity to become an adored, loved, respected, and even sometimes hated, sports athlete. But in the case of Allen Iverson things are slightly different. As quoted in the Batman Forever, “You either die the hero, or live long enough to become the villain.”

When he first stepped on the scene at the campus of Georgetown, Iverson thrilled the nation with his unbelievable speed and ferocious defense. With John Thompson (and his towel) behind him, Iverson amazed NBA scouts, general managers and coaches. Then, the barely six-foot, Hamptonian would become the #1 overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.

From there, Iverson would lead, what is now known as, the “hip hop generation” to the forefront. The tattoos, the cornrows, the passion and fire to go out every night and play like it was his very last game were unimaginable. A.I. would face opponents who were 4 to 6 inches taller, yet still give pour in 30-plus points and smile in the meantime. The kids loved him. The women adored him. His opponents respected him. From the numerous All-Star appearances, scoring titles and other notable accomplishments, Iverson’s greatest achievement came in 2001 when he took on Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant’s Lakers. Yes, the Sixers lost in 5 games, but for those five games, no star shined brighter than Iverson. His only Finals appearance was beautiful as he took four (at-best) average NBA players on a ride they’d never forget. At this point, A.I. was on top of the world and sadly enough, it would be his peek.

A few playoff appearances and scoring titles later, Sixers wanted to travel in a new direction and traded away their franchise player to the Denver Nuggets. Iverson had many occurrences of off-court antics with his preach about Practice and disagreement with the front office on transactions. From there Iverson would do stints in Denver, Detroit and Memphis. He would never return to the NBA Finals or win another scoring title.

However, before bowing out completely Iverson returned to play in Philadelphia. As he was announced for his first game returning, Iverson immediately kissed the floor and bowed to the Philadelphia faithful. Then after many missed games, on March 2nd, 2010, Sixers’ GM Ed Stefanski announced Allen Iverson wouldn’t be returning for the rest of the season.

After a hectic offseason of big signings and the formation of the Miami Cheat, Iverson was left without a home. Suddenly, ESPN announces Iverson has signed a deal to play for a team in Turkey for 2 years worth $4 million.

This hurts a lot of Iverson fans, but a player has to do what he has to do. This is a business and well, business is business. He didn’t get a final game or even a press conference to say goodbye, but at least Iverson left us with enough memories to tell out kid’s kids about. Not too many media villains can do that.

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