BY MICHAEL SAMUELS
Allen Iverson, one of the greatest players to ever grace an NBA floor. The first overall pick of the 1996 NBA draft. A 6 foot guard from Georgetown. Allen Iverson made an immediate impact on the Philadelphia 76ers by winning rookie of the year and taking the franchise on his back for the next decade. For ten years A.I. was the face of the franchise and one of the faces of the NBA. While in Philly, A.I. made his career legendary with 4 scoring titles, 2 all-star MVPs, a regular season MVP, and numerous 1st team all-NBA selections. His 26.7 ppg are 6th all-time in NBA history and his 29.7 ppg playoff average is only 2nd behind Michael Jordan in NBA history.
So what happened to this once dominant player who captivated a nation with his gritty play and determination to win? His career took a downward turn once traded from the 76ers to the Denver Nuggets. Still the prominent scorer, but it looked as if he left his heart in Philly. A two year stint in Denver, a trade to the Detroit Pistons, and a one year contract with the Memphis Grizzlies made A.I. just an afterthought for general managers around the league. Why did he become an afterthought? A bad attitude and an ego that made him difficult to deal with. Not realizing that he was past the time where he could carry a team, A.I. basically pushed himself out the league. Even in a return to Philly A.I. was just not the same player and never regained his stature in the NBA. A.I. wants to make a return to the NBA, but his reputation precedes him. His unwillingness to come off the bench towards the end of his career has made it impossible for him to get a job in the NBA. It's very sad to see A.I. leave the game like he has, but in all honesty he has nobody to blame but himself.
While most people just throw A.I. under the bus as somebody who blew it, let's not forget A.I. at one time was the face of the NBA, the face of a franchise, and one of the most popular players to ever play. It took the 76ers 6 years to replace him as it took them until 2012 to win another playoff series. The fans in Philly clearly haven’t forgotten what A.I. did for their team as he was given a great ovation at a playoff game earlier this year. The story of the man that called himself "The Answer" has a sad ending, but his contributions to the game of basketball far outweigh the bad.