Allen Iverson was always destined for the Basketball Hall of Fame. The only real question was how long would he have to wait? On Monday, we learned the answer: not long at all. The man they call “The Answer,” one of the top pound-for-pound players in NBA history, will be part of the 10-member 2016 class bound for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. And honestly, we couldn’t be more thrilled.
Whether we’re talking about his cultural impact, undeniable toughness, or legendary crossover, A.I. influenced an entire generation both on and off the court. And man, did we mention that crossover? The truth is, we could go on and on about one of our favorite players to ever step on the court. However, we thought it’d be more fitting to highlight some of the instances that made A.I. such a memorable figure. With that, here’s a look at seven moments that best exemplify Allen Iverson’s Hall of Fame career.
7. Iverson expresses his thoughts on “practice”
Although Iverson’s infamous “practice” rant happened during a 2002 news conference and not during a game, this moment is simply too iconic not to mention along with A.I.’s other greatest hits. And we have no doubt others would agree. After all, how often does a basketball player, one of the best in the game, sit in front of a room full of reporters and drop the phrase “We’re talking about practice” 22 times? The Answer (You see what we did there?) is simple: just once.
6. Iverson steals a win against the Wizards in OT
On November 26, 2004, the Washington Wizards and the Philadelphia 76ers were knotted up at 114 with just 3.3 seconds left in overtime. The Wizards inbounded the ball in front of their own bench and all signs pointed to them getting the last shot. Only it didn’t play out that way. What actually happened: Iverson jumped the pass, stole the ball, and scored a game-winning layup with just two-tenths of a second left on the clock.. As the Philly crowd went absolutely wild, A.I. just cupped his ear and took it all in. Talk about unforgettable.
5. Iverson decimates the Hornets in the playoffs
During Game 1 of the opening round of the 2003 NBA playoffs, the New Orleans Hornets learned fairly quickly that they had no answer for The Answer. In a game that saw the Sixers win 98-90, Iverson shot 21 for 32 from the field, hit three of five from beyond the arc, and knocked down 10 of 11 free throws. He finished the affair with 55 points, four rebounds, eight assists, and two steals. Now that’s how you set the tone for a series.
4. Iverson sends the 76ers to the NBA Finals
When the 2001 Eastern Conference finals between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks came down to Game 7, Iverson knew he had to bring his “A” game. So that’s exactly what he did. A.I. dropped 44 points to go along with six rebounds, seven assists, and two steals and Philly advanced to the NBA Finals with a 108-91 victory. Suffice to say, it’s been downhill for Sixers basketball ever since.
3. Iverson shows why he is the MVP
Some players might feel immense pressure to perform after receiving the MVP award in front of their home crowd right before the start of an important postseason game. Not Iverson. For him, it’s just another day at the office — as the Toronto Raptors learned on May 16, 2001, when the Sixers superstar dropped 52 points on them in Game 5 of the 2003 Eastern Conference semifinals. Just another example of A.I. doing A.I. things.
2. Iverson crosses over Jordan
Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player in the history of the game. Yet, on March 12, 1997, he fell victim to one of the most lethal moves the sport has ever seen: Iverson’s crossover. Not even His Airness could prevent No. 3 — just a rookie at the time — from breaking his ankles and knocking down a smooth jumper in his face. It must’ve been epic to see that play in person. Full disclosure: We did. And it was.
1. Iverson steps over Lue
In 2001, the Los Angeles Lakers — thanks to the dynamic duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant — captured the second of what would become three straight NBA titles. However, for many (especially Sixers fans), the most memorable play of this entire series happened with just under one minute left to play in overtime of Game 1. That’s when The Answer knocked down a fadeaway jumper from the corner and proceeded to step over LA’s Tyronn Lue, who had fallen to the ground after a failed attempt to stop the Sixers guard. Philadelphia won the battle. Los Angeles won the war. And Iverson, well, he won our hearts.
Statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.