There have been many Philadelphia 76ers players that have come and gone in the past 15-20 years. Some have stayed with the team for a long time while others did not.
Out of all the players to come through Philadelphia, only a select few made an impact on the city. The one player that seemed to always steal the show each time he put on a Sixers jersey was “The Answer” Allen Iverson.
This Saturday night, the Sixers will host the Washington Wizards at 7:30 pm. The game itself does not mean much, but for one of the few times this season, the Wells Fargo Center will be rocking just like it did 15 years ago.
The fans that show up on Saturday night will probably not be interested in the game, but will be there to show support to one of the greatest Sixers ever. At halftime, the Sixers will officially retire Iverson’s number three jersey in honor of the spectacular career that he assembled during his time in Philadelphia.
When the team hangs his jersey up in the rafters at the Wells Fargo Center, he will become a part of something that only seven other Sixers have ever gotten to experience. His number three will be alongside Julius Erving (6), Maurice Cheeks (10), Wilt Chamberlain (13), Hal Greer (15), Bobby Jones (24), Billy Cunningham (32), and Charles Barkley (34).
When Iverson broke into the league in 1996 after he played college ball at Georgetown, the Sixers immediately knew that he was going to be something special. In his first year, he started every game except for two and he averaged 23.5 points a game as a rookie.
This Sixers team was one of the worst in the league, but with Iverson settling in, the team took off in the next few years. His signature moment of his rookie season is when he crossed over Michael Jordan and hit a step back jumper from the top of the key.
That was just one of the many memorable moments Iverson had in his 14 year career. From that point on, he single handedly made the Sixers one of the most dominant teams in basketball.
In his 12 years in Philadelphia, he scored an average of 27.6 points a game, and was always one of the league leaders in steals. He also was one of top players in franchise history with field goals made, free throws made, and of course, points per game.
The difference between Iverson and so many of the other players in his era was his size. He was listed at six feet and only weighed about 165 pounds.
This type of frame usually would not be successful in a league full of giants, but it did not affect Iverson at all. He may have been the smallest guy on the floor, but he had the biggest heart out of anyone.
He was fearless on the floor and was never afraid of contact. He would get bumped around and banged up, but that would never stop him on his pursuit to get to the basket.
The talent he demonstrated on the court was something that could never be forgotten by any basketball fan. Some say the way he played the game was selfish, but Iverson knew how to get his team to win.
Back in 2001, he led the Sixers to their first NBA Finals appearance against the powerhouse Los Angeles Lakers. The team lost in five games, but they made it clear that they were no joke.
In the finals series, the Sixers went in to the Staples Center as huge underdogs and pulled out a dramatic game one win. In the game, Iverson hit the infamous crossover jumper where he stepped over Tyronn Lue at the conclusion of the play.
In his first and only finals series, he averaged over 35 points a game in a losing effort. This will go down as Iverson’s greatest season ever as he received his one and only NBA’s Most Valuable Player of the Year Award.
He also was an 11 time NBA All-Star, Rookie of the Year, and four time scoring champion. The list of accomplishments for Iverson goes on and on.
Unfortunately, Iverson will go down as one of the greatest players in the game without a championship. Even though he never had the opportunity to put on a championship ring, this will not tarnish his legacy even the slightest bit.
Iverson went through thick and thin in the city of Philadelphia. When he was traded to Denver back in 2006, he left the city on somewhat bad terms.
He played a few seasons in Denver and Detroit, but in 2009, he was once again a 76er. The environment in the Wells Fargo Center on the night of his return was electric as emotions ran high.
On that night, the Sixers faithful showed their appreciation of Iverson and were ecstatic to see him return to the team he spilled his heart for. Iverson did everything he could and the Sixers fans truly loved him for it.
At halftime on Saturday night’s game, expect a similar reaction to the one he received back in 2009. Iverson deserves this moment as he will go down in history as one of the greatest Sixers ever.
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