By Charles Glover, Jr.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ fans have had little to cheer for this season, but Saturday night, March 1, was different and the fans came out in droves to celebrate “The Answer” Allen Iverson. At halftime of the game between the 76ers and the Washington Wizards, Iverson was honored with the retiring of his jersey. Other 76ers whose jerseys have been retired by the 76ers, like “Dr. J” Julius Irving and Moses Malone, were also in attendance to honor the beloved star.
Iverson was clearly choked up as he took to the podium to address the sold out crowd. During Iverson’s playing days, the only predictable aspect of his game was endless energy and effort. So it came as no surprise that the first person Iverson thanked wasn’t his family or friends, but Michael Jordan. Iverson explained his motivation for playing basketball by sharing, “Growing up, I was one of those kids that wanted to be like Mike.” Iverson thanked his family and closest friends by name as well as many of his closest 76ers teammates by name. As many people Iverson would go on to thank (including former General Manager Billy King and former owner Pat Croce), he realized he would not name everyone stating, “to those I didn’t mention, you know who you are and what you meant to me.”
While Iverson omitted to mention some of his famous coaches like Larry Brown and John Thompson, he was as inclusive as one could expect, including thanking his competitors for “bringing the best out of me.” Iverson’s connection with the Philadelphia crowd has always been reminiscent of the fictitious Philly hero Rocky. Iverson’s never-ending drive, literally and physically, to win was embraced by the fans in a way few athletes have ever experienced. His influence on the NBA was expansive as Iverson’s distinctive style, including corn rows and numerous tattoos, would become commonplace shortly after he entered the league.
Iverson had one of the most successful sneaker brands for Reebok that garnered him a lifetime endorsement deal with that company. Iverson’s fans acknowledge his missteps on and off the court but celebrate the passion and excitement that “The Answer” brought to the game of basketball. The honor bestowed upon him by the 76ers organization on Saturday was well-deserved. –OnPointPress.net
Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.