The Bulls hosted the Sixers on November 2, 1996. That’s a day Iverson will never forget since it was the first time he shared the court with Jordan, who didn’t look like a real person to the Sixers superstar.
Allen Iverson: Michael Jordan didn’t look human to me
During an interview with Hall of Fame NFL tight end Shannon Sharpe, Iverson said Jordan didn’t look human when he saw him for the first time. The Answer was in awe of seeing Black Jesus in person and thought he was next to a God-like figure.
“He didn’t look real to me,” Iverson said. “I know I was starstruck. I looked at that man, and he didn’t look human to me. He got on the Jordans, he don’t even have on the NBA socks. I’m looking at his knee brace on his shin, and I was like, man, it’s him. I was starstruck.”
It’s an intimidating feeling to play against the player you grew up idolizing, so it’s not surprising that Iverson struggled on November 2, 1996. He scored 15 points while shooting just 4-of-13 from the field. The 2001 MVP also had five turnovers.
Meanwhile, Jordan was terrific. The six-time champion poured in 27 points on 55.0% shooting from the floor. The Bulls defeated the Sixers 115-86 at the United Center, and Iverson was likely disappointed he played poorly in front of his idol.
However, the following three times Iverson faced Jordan during his rookie season, he put on a show and even crossed over the player he looked up to.
Allen Iverson scored 32, 37 and 44 against Michael Jordan and Bulls
The Sixers hosted the Bulls on December 21, 1996. Although they lost, Iverson showed Jordan why he was the No. 1 overall pick. The Georgetown product went off for 32 points while shooting 11-of-23 overall. MJ, though, got the last laugh with 31 points and the win.
March 12, 1997, is a date Sixers fans will probably never forget. Not only did Iverson score 37 points and outplay Jordan, but he also crossed over the one-time Defensive Player of the Year. AI talked about the famous crossover in 2020 with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on the All the Smoke podcast.
“This that young boy sh*t, you know what I mean,” Iverson. said. “You ain’t seen nothing like this. And then I heard Phil Jackson call him out. He called him out on the switch. Come here, man. Now imma try my move on the best person that I’ve ever seen play the game. Now imma see if this move is real. And now I’m like oh sh*t, and the craziest part is I didn’t know what I did until ESPN and errbody else talking about it. I hit him with that thang.”
The Bulls once again defeated the Sixers, this time by a final score of 108-104. However, Iverson (31 points) played better than Jordan (23 points) and put his basketball hero on a highlight reel.
Chicago and Philadelphia played for a fourth time on April 7, 1997. Iverson torched the Bulls for 44 points, but Phil Jackson‘s squad won by 26 behind 30 points from Jordan.
The 1996-97 season was special for both Jordan and Iverson. The former finished the year on top of the basketball world for a fifth time, while the latter was the best rookie.
MJ won fifth title, AI won ROY
Jordan won his ninth scoring title, fifth championship, and fifth Finals MVP in 1996-97. He averaged 29.6 points in the regular season and led the Bulls to a six-game series win over the Utah Jazz in the ’97 Finals.
Meanwhile, Iverson won the 1996-97 Rookie of the Year Award. He put up 23.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game in 76 contests.
Both Jordan and Iverson are in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The latter has said several times that he wouldn’t have existed in the NBA if the former didn’t give him the inspiration to become great. That’s why Jordan will always be the GOAT in Iverson’s eyes.