Allen Iverson was truly one of the greatest to ever do it in the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers honored the 11-time All-Star by retiring his No. 3 jersey.
The Wells Fargo Center was a sold-out crowd of fans in attendance to see their Philadelphia champion. His iconic No. 3 jersey was retired alongside only seven other players in the 76ers' history who've had their jerseys retired before him.
Dressed in all black with a black fedora to match, he held his daughter in his arms as he watched the jersey being raised. His other children and ex-wife Tawanna were there in support. Iverson said the honor was bittersweet.
"It's kind of like, it's basically bittersweet," Iverson said. "It feels good, you know, but some part of my heart hurts because I realize and understand that it's over. … When I come into the arena, I'm stepping out onto the basketball court with street clothes on. And I know I'll never be in a uniform again."
Iverson, 38, officially announced his retirement from professional basketball on October 30, 2013, but hadn’t played a game since 2010. He ended his career with his team that’d drafted him in 1996.
Iverson was one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history with a season career scoring average of 26.7 points per game ranking sixth greatest of all time. His playoff career scoring average of 29.7 points per game puts him second to only Michael Jordan.
He was the 1997 Rookie of the Year, a two-time All-Star game MVP, a three-times steal leader, a four-time NBA scoring champion and a seven-time All-NBA selection.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver recalled Iverson’s relatability, even in China where his jersey sold more than Yao Ming.
"I would say for Allen, and this is now putting on my fan hat, he defined the player who so-called left everything on the court," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. "And I remember even in the early days of Yao Ming in China, everybody was always surprised when we said, 'No, Yao Ming didn't sell the most jerseys in China. Allen Iverson did. And I think it's because people could relate to him in a way they couldn't necessarily relate to the big men in the league.”
The new school leaders (future greats in their own rights) like Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James congratulated A.I. on social media calling him the GOAT.
“Time has wings my brotha. Your game pushed my then 21 year old self to play beyond my years. Your impact on the game will be felt for generations. #salute #respect #96 #AI," Bryant tweeted.
"Pound for pound... I had a pleasure of competing against and playing with one of the greatest to do…,” Wade tweeted.
"Pound for pound!! Congrats homie. What a pleasure to compete against u and also become a friend in the process. U the reason why I got tattoos, wore a headband and arm sleeve. Thanks for everything!! #AITheGoat #BubbaChuck #HOFNext,” James said.
“Congratulations to one of the greatest to ever do it. Proud to call him a friend and my brother. Peace God. There will never be another Bubba Chuck. Love you King," wrote Anthony.
Now that AI’s retired, he has plenty of time to fish in the boat he received as a gift with the words ‘The Answer’ written across it as a nod to his nickname.
(Photo: Christopher Szagola/Cal Sport Media/Landov)