Allen Iverson is remembered as one of the toughest NBA superstars of his generation. Despite being graciously listed at 6-feet, he was never afraid to drive to the basket, get hammered by a much bigger defender, take his two shots from the line, and go right back in the lane again the next time down the floor. His fearlessness led him to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. But AI nearly landed with another Hall of Famer, and together, the pair would have sent shockwaves through the NBA.
In one of the most fun but often forgotten what-if scenarios, Iverson almost landed in Minnesota alongside Kevin Garnett.
The Minnesota Timberwolves were on Iverson’s list of destinations before he landed with the Denver Nuggets
In 2006, Iverson demanded a trade out of Philadelphia. The 76ers made the 2001 NBA Finals and lost in five games to the Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O’Neal Los Angeles Lakers. That was The Answer’s only NBA finals appearance with the organization (and in his career, as it turned out). The Sixers were rebuilding and the franchise guard was due a hefty salary.
It didn’t make sense for Iverson to remain in Philly. He demanded a trade, and the organization obliged. So the No. 1 pick in the 1996 NBA draft landed in Denver alongside rising young star Carmelo Anthony.
However, the T-Wolves and LA Clippers were also on the Sixers legend’s list of preferred destinations, according to former Philadelphia general manager Billy King via USAToday.
Iverson wanted to play with Garnett and bring the latter a championship and playoff success he had never seen in Minnesota, in the process giving himself another shot at an NBA title as well.
An Allen Iverson-Kevin Garnett duo would have been terrifying for NBA teams, literally
Both AI and KG were two of the most aggressive, cutthroat players in the league at the time. Garnett was an out-of-this-world athlete who used his violent style to wreak havoc on the defensive end of the floor. Conversely, Iverson channeled that same level of intensity into his offensive game.
Even after being traded to Denver in 2006-07 — his 12th year in the league — Iverson could still score. Playing alongside Anthony, who was well on his way to developing into one of the NBA’s premier offensive players himself, the 165-pound guard averaged 24.8 points per game. The next year, he averaged 26.4 as a 32-year-old.
That same ’06-07 season, Garnett and the T-Wolves were about to miss their third straight postseason. The Big Ticket averaged 22.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.7 blocks. He was NBA All-Defensive Second Team and All-NBA Third Team. But he couldn’t carry the franchise alone anymore.
The pairing of these two superstars would have been dynamic.
The idea of Iverson and Garnett playing together would have been more fun than the actual reality
The summer of 2007 saw Garnett traded to the Boston Celtics, where he formed a Big Three with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and won his first and only title, proving anything is possible. KG and the Celtics also returned to the finals the next season.
Iverson’s career was never the same after being traded to Detroit for Chauncey Billups during the 2008-09 season. His reckless style of play finally took its toll. He went from Detroit to Memphis and back to Philly again in 2009-10, playing in only 28 games.
He never played in the NBA again.
Garnett got the title he always craved and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020. Iverson went into the Hall of Fame in 2016. Both players are all-time greats and were nearly all-time greats together. But, maybe for the good of everyone involved, it just wasn’t meant to be.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference