The Philadelphia 76ers have a storied history filled with NBA championships and Hall of Fame players. However, it may be true that the Sixers’ most influential period on the NBA was during Allen Iverson’s extraordinary tenure.
“A 6-foot guard, from Georgetown, Allen Iverson!”
I have heard that introduction more times than I can count, especially as a kid becoming immersed in the NBA around the time Iverson burst on to the scene. But, I have also heard that introduction many times in recent years, as the Philadelphia 76ers‘ in-game announcer never misses a chance to bellow those iconic words over the intercom anytime Iverson attends a game.
Iverson was and is my favorite player of all-time. He was the star player on my favorite team and I wanted to walk like him, talk like him, and more than anything, play basketball like him. It is noteworthy, however, that it was not just the kids growing up in and around Philadelphia that idolized and wanted to be like Iverson. He was a role model, in a loose sense of the word, but more importantly, he was an influencer on a national level. From the toughness he displayed on the court, to his signature braids, to the notable baggy clothes he wore, Iverson was an icon.
Iverson’s attire would eventually lead NBA Commissioner David Stern to enact a dress code that essentially eliminated any clothing Iverson had in his closet. Not that it should matter too much, considering Iverson was well known for never packing luggage for away games and buying all his clothes for road trips in the cities the Sixers were playing. Yet, the commissioner of the league took notice that this young superstar was garnering incomparable attention and representing the NBA in a way he found unsatisfactory, so changes were made.
At 6-foot, 165 pounds, Iverson played way above his size and can be argued as the greatest pound-for-pound player to ever play the game. His on the court play led the smaller guard revolution that followed him with influences seen in Chris Paul, Mike Conley and Kyrie Irving, to name a few.
Yet, it was Iverson’s off the court attitude and influence that put the Sixers on the map nationally. Sure, the Sixers went to the 2001 NBA Finals, but by then everyone in the country new the name Allen Iverson. Ripples had already been sent through a generation of kids, who did everything they could to buy Iverson’s signature shoes, master that untouchable crossover, and wear clothes three sizes too big.