OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

The Truth About: Allen Iverson

The Truth About: Allen Iverson

“Me and the boy A.I. got more in common than just ballin & rhymin, get it? More in Carmen…” – Jay-Z Christ

That’s a lyric from the most catty, chatty and sassy song Hov ever released; I fucking hate Super Ugly but as most of you know Jay is a musical GOD to me. See what I did there? I told the truth about my favorite and don’t excuse the bullshit when it’s bullshit. And that’s what a majority of Iverson fans don’t do because like Jay-Z we gravitate to A.I. because of how much we relate to him. Now Iverson representing our culture and being an icon (which he is to me as well) usually makes people overstate his actual basketball play.

As incredible of an offensive player as A.I. was, he was never actually the best at anything basketball. People will tell you all about his heart, his height, his tattoos, his tenacity and intangibles are super important in basketball but so is the actual basketball. Iverson could create his own shot with the best of them but creating and finishing are two different things. We’ll see highlights but the percentages and volume of his shooting were below average. A.I. could finish at the rim (for his size) but also shot below average at the rim because of the volume of shots he would take. God bless, I understand his teammates left much to be desired on the offensive end and his MVP season was well deserved but this idea that he “carried the Sixers to the Finals” is complete bullshit and we don’t excuse bullshit over here.

The 2001 Sixers were an amazing defensive team because of the coaching of Larry Brown and anchor known as Mount Mutombo; who just so happened to win Defensive Player of the Year that season but sure, Iverson was by himself. Larry Brown and A.I. butted heads throughout their tenure together but when Coach Brown finally built the team he wanted, he essentially let Iverson do as he pleased on offense while “carrying” guys like Aaron McKie, who happened to win 6th man of the Year that season but sure, Iverson was by himself. The fact Mutombo won DPOY in 2001 is partially Iverson’s responsibility because A.I. couldn’t guard anyone to save his cornrows and Mutombo would have to hold it down at the rim. “Iverson led the league in steals…” He sure did by taking terrible risks on the defensive end and the strength of the 76ers was their TEAM defense.

In the last 30 years of the NBA, name one NBA Champion that won with 2 stars or without amazing coaching; don’t worry, I can’t name one either. Iverson provided us with moments that will live forever, he’s everything our culture is, brash, rebellious and stylish. We love Iverson because he crossed Jordan, we love A.I. because he braided his hair, we love Iverson because he got tatted, and we love Iverson because he wore a shooter’s sleeve and headband. We love Iverson because he reminds us of us; he looks, talks, walks and carries himself with our “swag”.

While we love Iverson for standing over Tyronn Lue, we forget the Sixers lost the next 4 games. Iverson was the best and our favorite player on a team that wasn’t exciting or sexy because they played fundamentally sound basketball and TEAM defense. People will tell you A.I. made the NBA change their dress code, when in fact it was the Malice at the Palace that made fuck ass David Stern change the dress code. Why didn’t Iverson’s career last longer? As much as we love the sound bite of him talking about “PRACTICE?” we forget that one of his friends had just died and he was frustrated and we love him for being raw as shit. Look at all the things I said we love about A.I. now make a list of on the court reasons; whose list was longer? As much as I respect and adore Iverson’s rant, not sorry to say that practice in a team sport is pretty important; especially as the league MVP and best player on the team.

Iverson is an icon of our culture, he is an icon of basketball and the NBA but he’s simply overstated as a basketball player because of how much we have emotionally invested into our favorite but a career shooting percentage of 42% on 22 shot attempts per game, while averaging 6 assists and 4 turnovers is super ugly.

Next week, I tell the truth about the best player on my favorite team, who resigned with my Knicks out of “loyalty” and not $124,000,000; Carmelo “people only hate me cuz I play in NY” Anthony

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