Allen Iverson headlined the 1996 NBA Draft class, which is arguably the greatest in NBA history. The former Georgetown star was selected No. 1 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers and promptly launched a Hall of Fame career.
Yet while AI has nothing but love for fellow draft class members such as Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, he wasn’t even in the iconic photograph that has provided basketball fans a lasting memory through the years.
Allen Iverson put the 1996 NBA Draft class above all others
Allen Iverson believes he was the top pick in the greatest NBA draft ever.
Iverson told Shannon Sharpe back in August that he doesn’t think any other class can hold a candle to 1996 when it comes to the balance of depth and star power. Iverson is one of four Hall of Famers in that draft, alongside Ray Allen, Kobe, Bryant, and Steve Nash. The group is also littered with other notable names, including Marcus Camby, Lorenzen Wright, Antoine Walker, Kerry Kittles, Peja Stojakovic, and Derek Fisher.
While AI, Kobe, Allen, and Nash are certainly standout figures, other accolades stand as a testament to the total talent pool of the ’96 draft. One-third of the first-round picks became All-Stars, which is a pretty staggering mark.
The class took a photo after the draft, with everyone in uniform. It’s an iconic image, both because of the persons in the picture and the brick wall backdrop. The mean mugs certainly play a role, as well. But the iconic snapshot is strangely missing its centerpiece.
Iverson has no clue how or why he missed the shoot
Other members of the 1996 class are more than keenly aware of Iverson’s absence from the photo. Marbury said the picture is tremendous, but it’s too obvious to point out that the No. 1 pick isn’t in the shot.
“Yo, this picture looks good, and it’s dope, but it’s just something wrong with the picture,” Marbury said during an NBA TV retrospective. “You’re staring at it looking for Waldo. You know what I’m saying? You lookin’ at it, then you like, ‘Yo, where’s AI at?'”
Nobody had The Answer, pun intended, to that question. Ray Allen simply shrugged his shoulders, while Jermaine O’Neal offered the explanation that Iverson was scheduled to do something else. As it turns out, AI himself is as clueless as his fellow draftees.
Iverson began his own segment by saying, “I always wanted to clear that up” before hilariously following up with “I don’t know where it was; I don’t know how I missed it!”
A trendsetter like AI almost certainly deserved to be in such a revered history of the game’s past. It’s just too bad he couldn’t come up with some excuse on the spot.
Is the 1996 NBA Draft class the best ever?
It’s hard to argue with AI’s assessment of his draft class, though others might favor the classes of 2003 and 1984.
The 2003 class featured LeBron James, who at the time was the most noteworthy prospect in generations. Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade were also selected within the top five, with notorious draft bust Darko Milicic taken No. 2 overall.
Whereas the ’03 class was more top-heavy, the class of ’84 was deeper. Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton are the Hall of Famers in that group, with longtime NBA vets such as Kevin Willis and Sam Perkins also in the mix.
In any case, the class of ’96 probably has the best draft photo ever, even if it’s humorously missing the main attraction.
Draft information courtesy of Basketball Reference.