The Philadelphia 76ers drafted Iverson with the first overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. The Toronto Raptors had the second pick, and Thomas wishes the Sixers passed on Iverson so he could have drafted the Georgetown product.
Isiah Thomas wanted Allen Iverson on the Raptors
Thomas was an executive with the Raptors from January 1994 to November 1997. The Detroit Pistons legend recently replied to a tweet from noted Chicago author Jack M. Silverstein where he said he wanted to draft Iverson in 1996 to pair him with Damon Stoudamire.
Unfortunately for Thomas, the Sixers had the first pick and drafted Iverson. Meanwhile, the Raptors selected Marcus Camby, who only played in 126 games with the franchise before getting traded to the New York Knicks for Sean Marks, Charles Oakley, and cash.
Iverson could have turned the Raptors franchise around, something Thomas envisioned occurring. Instead, Zeke had to watch AI flourish in Philadelphia.
Allen Iverson was a superstar with the Sixers
Iverson was must-see television during his prime years with the Sixers. He was a scoring machine who had the ball on a string and made several elite defenders fall to the ground with his nasty crossover.
During his first stint with the Sixers, Iverson won four scoring titles, the 1996-97 Rookie of the Year Award and the 2000-01 regular-season MVP. He also led the league in steals per game three times.
The Sixers made it to the NBA Finals in 2001 behind Iverson’s historic season. He averaged 31.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.6 assists to win MVP and put up 32.1 points per game in the Eastern Conference playoffs. In Game 1 of the 2001 Finals, the Answer torched the Los Angeles Lakers for 48 points at Staples Center, and the Sixers upset the Lake Show by six points.
However, LA rattled off four straight wins after losing Game 1 to win the championship. Iverson never got back to the Finals, and the Sixers eventually traded him during the 2006-07 season to the Denver Nuggets.
Despite not winning a championship as Thomas did with the Pistons, Iverson is an all-time great whose impact on the game of basketball will surely never be forgotten.
AI was the pound-for-pound GOAT
Iverson was deemed the pound-for-pound GOAT since he was small in stature but had the biggest heart and incredible scoring and ball-handling skills. Had he been taller, Bubba Chuck may have been even more deadly.
In 914 NBA games, Iverson averaged 26.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 6.2 assists. He’s seventh in NBA history in points per game and 25th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. The Hampton, Virginia, native scored 24,368 points during his legendary career.
Several players got tattoos and ear piercings because of Iverson. He was a cultural icon and inspired a whole generation of players to play every game like it was their last.
Thomas, who won two championships with the Pistons, certainly wishes the Sixers didn’t draft Iverson so that he and the Raptors could have taken him. However, it was undoubtedly fun to watch Iverson play in Philadelphia and become a legend in the City of Brotherly Love.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.