Allen Iverson

Allen Ezail Iverson (born June 7, 1975, in Hampton, Virginia) is an American professional basketball player for the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association. As the first pick in the 1996 NBA Draft for the Philadelphia 76ers, Iverson became one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, despite his small (6'0") stature. His career scoring average of 27.7 points per game is third all-time behind Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. Iverson was also the 2000-2001 NBA Most Valuable Player and lead the 76ers to the NBA Finals that postseason.

Early life

As a high school junior, Iverson played quarterback for the Bethel High School football team, leading the team to the state championship.

On February 14, 1993, Iverson and several of his friends became involved in an altercation with a group of white teenagers at a Hampton, Virginia bowling alley. Allen's crowd was raucous and had to be asked to quiet down several times, and eventually something of a shouting duel began with another group of youths. Then shortly thereafter, a huge fight erupted, pitting the white crowd against the blacks. During the fight, Iverson allegedly struck a woman in the head with a chair. He, along with three of his friends who are also African-American, were the only people arrested. Iverson, who was 17 at the time, was convicted as an adult of the felony charge of maiming by mob, a rarely used Virginia statute that was designed to combat lynching. Iverson and his supporters maintained his innocence, claiming that he left the alley as soon as the trouble began. Iverson said, "For me to be in a bowling alley where everybody in the whole place know who I am and be crackin' people upside the head with chairs and think nothin' gonna happen? That's crazy! And what kind of a man would I be to hit a girl in the head with a damn chair? I wish at least they'd said I hit some damn man."

After Iverson spent four months at Newport News City Farm, a correctional facility in Newport News, Virginia, he was granted clemency by Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder, and the Virginia Court of Appeals overturned the conviction in 1995 for insufficient evidence.

College basketball

In spring 1994, Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson visited Iverson at Hampton's Bethel High School.

Iverson said of Thompson, "Coach was like a father figure to me, right off just clicked... Ninety percent of having an relationship with him is things that occur off-court. He helped me through last year. I didn't want to come here and just do anything. Any problems that I have, I can go to him and he'll sit down and listen. It is a lot more than player-coach between us. I don't think I could have made it through last year without him." Thompson said of Iverson, "He did all I expected him to do last year. When he didn't, we sat down and talked."

At Georgetown, Iverson won two Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards, a Rookie Tournament 1st Team, and a gold medal for his win at the World University Games in Japan in 1995. Iverson led all USA players in scoring and assists, averaging 16.7 points per game and 6.1 assists per game. He was also the Hoyas' all-time leading scorer.

As his family situation worsened, Iverson needed to turn pro early, which meant leaving school before graduating. Iverson was the first of just two basketball players, Victor Page being the other, to leave Georgetown early for the NBA under Thompson.

NBA career

Philadelphia 76ers

After two seasons at Georgetown, Iverson was selected first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1996 NBA Draft. He played with the Sixers for 10 years. During his tenure he was Rookie of the Year, League MVP, 2x All-Star MVP, and led the league in scoring for four years.

1996-2000 Franchise Player

After his rookie season, during which he led the 76ers in points, assists and minutes, Iverson was named the 1996 NBA Rookie of the Year and was a member of the NBA All-Rookie First Team.

After the 1998-1999 season, during which he averaged 26.8 points and earned his first scoring title, Iverson made his first trip to the playoffs. He started all ten playoff games and averaged 44.4 minutes per game despite being hampered by a number of nagging injuries. Iverson led the Sixers to an upset over the Orlando Magic, before losing to the Indiana Pacers in the second round.

Prior to the next season, Iverson signed a six-year, $70 million contract extension. That year, Iverson averaged 28.4 points and again led the 76ers into the playoffs. In the process, Iverson was selected to the Eastern Conference All Star team for the first time of what would be 9 straight appearances. In the playoffs, Iverson averaged 26.2 points, 4.8 assists, 4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, with a high of 40 points in the first round opener at Charlotte on April 22, 2000. Philadelphia advanced past Charlotte, but were eliminated again by Indiana in the second round. That season, he was the only player other than Shaquille O'Neal to receive a NBA Most Valuable Player vote, and he was named to his first All NBA first team.

2000-2001 MVP season

In the 2000 off-season, the 76ers actively tried to trade Iverson, and had agreed to terms with the Detroit Pistons before Matt Geiger, who was included in the deal, refused to forfeit his $5 million trade kicker.

That season, Iverson led his team to wins in the first ten games of the season, and was named starter at the 2001 NBA All-Star Game, where he won the game MVP. The Sixers also posted a 56-26 record, the best in the Eastern Conference that season. He also averaged a then-career high 31.1 points, winning his second NBA scoring title in the process. Iverson won the NBA steals title at 2.5 a game. Iverson was named NBA Most Valuable Player, and named to the All NBA First team for his accomplishments.

In the playoffs, Iverson and the Sixers defeated the Indiana Pacers in the first round, before meeting Vince Carter-led Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Semifinals. The series went the full seven games. In the next round, the Sixers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, also in seven games, to advance to the 2001 NBA Finals against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Iverson led the Sixers to their first finals since their 1983 championship. In game one of the 2001 NBA Finals, Iverson scored a playoff high 48 points and beat the heavily favored Lakers 107-101. In the game he famously stepped over Tyronn Lue after hitting a crucial shot. Allen would go on to score 23,35,35,37 in games 2-5, all losing efforts though the Sixers were not swept like many predicted. Allen enjoyed his most successful season as an individual and as a member of the Sixers during the 2000–01 NBA season.


The next season, the Sixers failed to repeat their success. Iverson and others struggled with injury, and despite averaging a league high 31.4 points per game. The Sixers fell to the sixth seed in the 2002 Playoffs, where they fell to the Boston Celtics in the first round.
Relationship with Larry Brown
For most of the early portion of Iverson's career, his head coach with the Sixers was Larry Brown. Iverson often praised Brown, saying that he would not have achieved so much in the sport without Brown's guidance. The two frequently clashed, including after the 76ers were defeated in the first round of the 2002 NBA Playoffs, when Brown criticized Iverson for missing team practices and Iverson responded by saying, "We're sitting here, and I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we're talking about practice, and went on a rant that included the word "practice" 25 times.

In the 2002-2003 season, Iverson once again put up stellar scoring numbers 27.6, was named an NBA All Star, and led the Sixers to the playoffs. This time they were eliminated by the Detroit Pistons, in the second round after a 6-game series. Brown left the 76ers in 2003, following the playoff loss. After his departure from the 76ers, both he and Iverson indicated that the two were on good terms and genuinely fond of one another. Iverson later reunited with Brown when Iverson became a member and co-captain of the 2004 United States Olympic men's basketball team.

The next season, under new coach Randy Ayers, Iverson had his worst season to date. The Sixers started off slowly and Ayers was fired midway through the season. Iverson also missed 34 games due to injury, the highest amount of games he had ever missed in a season. Though he still averaged 26.4 points per game, the Sixers failed to make the playoffs for the first time since Iverson's second season. In the 2004-2005 season, the 76ers named Jim O'Brien their coach. This season saw a resugence of Iverson, as he averaged 30.7 points per game, capturing his fourth scoring title. This tied him with George Gervin for 3rd most scoring titles among an individual. Iverson also averaged a career high 7.9 assists per game. Meanwhile, the Sixers acquired power forward Chris Webber from the Sacramento Kings in a midseason trade. While the Iverson and Webber initially didn't mesh, they lifted the 76ers into the playoffs where they lost to the Detroit Pistons in the first round. He was named to the All NBA First team at seasons end.

Fallout with Sixers
The 2005-2006 would be the last full season for Iverson in a Sixers uniform. he averaged a career high 33.7 points per game, but the Sixers missed the playoffs for the second time in three years. He had also run afoul with coach Jim O'Brien, and O'Brien was fired midway through the season.

On April 18, 2006 Iverson and Chris Webber arrived late to the Sixers' fan appreciation night and home game finale. Players are expected to report 90 minutes before game time, but both Iverson and Webber arrived around tipoff. Coach Maurice Cheeks notified the media that neither would be playing and general manager Billy King announced that Iverson and Webber would be fined. During the 2006 off-season, trade rumors had Iverson going to Denver, Atlanta, or Boston. None of the deals were completed. Iverson had made it clear that he would like to stay a Sixer.

On November 29, 2006 following a conflict at practice, Iverson stormed out of the gymnasium. That same evening, Iverson missed a corporate sponsor night at Lucky Strike Lanes in Philadelphia. All the 76ers besides Iverson attended this mandatory event. Iverson was fined an undisclosed amount by the 76ers. Iverson claimed he overslept after taking medication for pain related to having two abscessed teeth pulled but it was reported that Iverson told teammates earlier in the day he planned to blow off the event and was simply going to take the fine.

On December 8, 2006 Iverson reportedly demanded a trade from the Sixers (although he would deny that). As a result of the demand and missing practice prior to a matchup against the Washington Wizards, Iverson was told not to play nor attend any further games. During that game, which was televised nationally on ESPN, Sixers Chairman Ed Snider confirmed the trade rumors by stating "We're going to trade him. At a certain point, you have to come to grips with the fact that it's not working. He wants out and we're ready to accommodate him.

Denver Nuggets

On December 19, 2006, the Philadelphia 76ers sent Iverson and forward Ivan McFarlin to the Denver Nuggets for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and two first-round picks in the 2007 NBA Draft. At the time of the trade, Iverson was the NBA's number two leading scorer with teammate Carmelo Anthony being number one.

On December 23, 2006, Iverson played his first game as a Nugget. He had 22 points and 10 assists in a losing effort to the Sacramento Kings. In Iverson's first year as a Nugget they made the playoffs. They won the first game and lost the next four to the San Antonio Spurs.

Iverson returned to Philadelphia on March 19, 2008 to a sell-out crowd and received a standing ovation in a 115-113 loss.

Team USA career

Iverson was a member of the gold medal winning 1995 World University Games Team that finished 7-0 in Fukuoka, Japan. Part of a team that included future NBA stars Ray Allen, Tim Duncan, Kerry Kittles, Othella Harrington, Austin Croshere and others. Led the USA in scoring, assists and steals averaging 16.7 points, 6.1 assists and 2.9 steals a game, while shooting 56.0 percent from the field overall and 37.5 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

On being selected to playing for USA Basketball in 2003, Iverson said,"It's a great feeling to be able to represent the USA. It's an honor. It's a tribute to all the coaches I've had in my life - Coach (Larry) Brown, Coach (John) Thompson and my high school coach, Mike Bailey. I feel good about being able to make a team like this - it's really one of the great things I've done in my life. It makes me feel good about the person my mom raised."

Iverson helped the USA to a 10-0 record, the gold medal and a qualifying berth for the 2004 Olympics at the August 20-31 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico. Started all eight games he played in, and averaged a team second best 14.3 ppg., 3.8 apg., 2.5 rpg., 1.6 spg., while shooting 56.2 percent (41-73 FGs) from the field and 53.6 percent (15-28 3pt FGs) from 3-point and 81.0 percent (17-21 FTs) from the foul line.

In the USA's 111-71 victory over Canada on August 25, he accounted for an USA Olympic Qualifying single game record 28 points and made a single game record seven 3-pointers. Playing just 23 minutes, he shot 10-for-13 overall, 7-for-8 from 3-point, 1-for-1 from the foul line and added three assists, three steals and one rebound. All seven of his 3-point field goals were made during the final 7:41 of the third quarter.

He finished the tournament ranked overall tied for 10th in scoring, tied for fourth in steals, fifth in 3-point percentage, tied for seventh in assists, and ninth in field goal percentage (.562).

He missed the USA's final two games because of a sprained right thumb which was suffered in the first half of the August 28 Puerto Rico game.

Recorded 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field overall, and added five assists and three rebounds in 26 minutes of action in the USA's 101-74 exhibition game victory over Puerto Rico on August 17 in New York, N.Y.

Named on April 29, 2003, to the 2003 USA Senior National Team.

2004 Olympics

The team's performance at the Olympic Games, however, would ultimately prove to be a disappointment. During the exhibition period prior the Games, Iverson and LeBron James were benched for a game for having arrived late to a practice session. The United States' team had played a dismal game versus Germany, which had failed to qualify for the Olympic competition. Iverson did succeed in keeping the game from going into overtime with a miraculous half-court shot in the closing seconds. Despite the dramatic win, the team continued to struggle.

After losing to Puerto Rican team during round robin play, they would ultimately claim a bronze medal.

Player profile

Iverson ranks third all-time in points per game. He has averaged 27.7 points per game in his career, trailing all-time leader Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain in this category by only 2.4 points per game. Iverson is one of only 30 players in NBA history to score over 20,000 points in his career, and he was the sixth fastest in the history of the game to achieve this feat.

Iverson's trademark crossover dribble is regarded as one of the most effective moves in the game, making him difficult for a defender to contain in one-on-one play. Iverson is also known for his ability to draw fouls, at times seeming to get the free-throw line almost at will. He is regularly one of the NBA's leaders in free throws attempted, and in free throw percentage.

Iverson has averaged 6.3 assists per game over his career. He has also averaged 3.8 rebounds per game.

On defense, Iverson is also an adept ball-thief and is known for playing the passing lanes. He regularly ranks among the league leaders in steals and averages over two steals per game for his entire career.

Critics point out that Iverson's career shooting percentage (.426) is unremarkable. They also frequently accuse Iverson of being a ball hog; as of March 2007, he had taken ~16,800 shots in just over 700 games, averaging over 23 per game. In Iverson's defense, he has not been on teams with other remarkable scorers, and his assists-to-turnovers ratio is actually better than that of some other high scorers such as Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. Detractors also note that the 76ers' all-time record with Iverson in the lineup was barely above .500 (355-342), and that in the 2006-2007 season, the 76ers posted a better win-loss record without Iverson in the lineup than with him.

Despite these criticisms, Iverson is still generally regarded as one of the best guards to ever play the game, as evidenced by his being named the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference in the NBA All-Star Game for the past seven consecutive seasons. He was voted to seven All-NBA Teams. He also took the league and All-Star MVP and led the Sixers to the Finals in 2001.

Iverson's ability to effectively employ such a versatile combination of scoring methods — driving to the basket, drawing fouls, shooting from outside, and creating his own shot off of the dribble — all at only six feet tall, has made him one of the most distinctive and dominant players in NBA history.


Iverson has often been a controversial figure, dating back to his teenage years, including some troubles with the law.

1993: This incident was profiled on the television news magazine 60 Minutes due to claims of racial bias in the adjudication of the case. L. Douglas Wilder, at the time Governor of Virginia, became convinced that Iverson had been treated unfairly and controversially granted Iverson clemency, releasing him from his sentence. Iverson's conviction was later overturned on appeal.

1997: Iverson, along with his friends, was stopped by policemen for speeding late at night and was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon and for possession of marijuana. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to community service.

2000: Iverson recorded a rap single named 40 Bars. However, after being criticized for its controversial lyrics, he eventually was unable to release it. Going under his moniker, "Jewelz", the album was alleged to have made derogatory remarks about homosexuals. After criticism from activist groups and NBA Commissioner David Stern, he agreed to change the lyrics, but ultimately never released the album.

2002: Iverson allegedly threw his wife Tawanna out of the mansion during a fight. The following night, an enraged Iverson later went looking for his wife at his cousin's apartment. His cousin wouldn't let him in (Iverson was the one who paid the rent for the house).

2004: During the latter part of the 2003-2004 season, Iverson bristled under the disciplinarian approach of the Sixers' new head coach Chris Ford. This led to a number of contentious incidents, including Iverson being suspended for missing practice, fined for failing to notify Ford that Iverson would not attend a game because he was sick, and refusing to play in game because he felt "insulted" that Ford wanted Iverson to come off the bench as he worked his way back from an injury.

On February 24, 2004, Iverson, a noted regular casino patron, was spotted at Bally's Park Place in Atlantic City urinating in a trash can in full view of staff and patrons. He was told by casino management not to return.

When the 2004 United States Olympic team gathered in Jacksonville, Florida for its first exhibition game, Allen Iverson was late. He was suspended for the game.

2005: On December 9, 2005 after the Sixers defeated the Charlotte Bobcats, Iverson paid a late-night visit to the Trump Taj Mahal. After winning a hand at a three-card-stud poker table, Iverson was overpaid $10,000 in chips by a dealer. When the dealer quickly realized the mistake and requested the chips back, Iverson refused and a heated head-turning argument between him and casino staff began. Atlantic City casino regulations reportedly state that when a casino makes a payout mistake in favor of the gambler, he or she must return the money that they did not legitimately win by playing.

NBA Dress Code: In 2005, NBA commissioner David Stern banned what critics and supporters call "hip-hop culture"-related attire such as Mitchell & Ness brand throwback jerseys, baggy jeans, crooked baseball caps, do-rags, knee-length t-shirts, large items of jewelry, and Timberland boots. Punishment for violations would include fines and possible suspensions for repeat violations. Iverson harshly criticized Stern's dress code, saying that it "would not change a person's character regardless of what type of clothing they wore", and that "associating hip-hop styles of dress with violent crime, drugs, or a bad image is racist." Iverson also said that the advertising of many prominent NBA sponsors, such as Nike, Reebok, Puma and Adidas were heavily influenced by hip-hop culture.

2007: Iverson was fined $25,000 by the NBA for criticizing referee Steve Javie following a game between the Nuggets and Iverson's former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, played January 2, 2007. During the course of the game, Iverson committed two technical fouls and was ejected from the game. After the game, Iverson said, "I thought I got fouled on that play, and I said I thought that he was calling the game personal I should have known that I couldn't say anything anyway. It's been something personal with me and him since I got in the league. This was just the perfect game for him to try and make me look bad.

2007: Iverson denied taking part in a 2005 Washington nightclub brawl, testifying that two men who sued him for $20 million in connection with the fight want to cash in on his basketball fame.

NBA career statistics

Regular season

|- | align="left" | 1996–97 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 76 || 74 || 40.1 || .416 || .341 || .702 || 4.1 || 7.5 || 2.1 || .3 || 23.5 |- | align="left" | 1997–98 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 80 || 80 || 39.4 || .461 || .298 || .729 || 3.7 || 6.2 || 2.2 || .3 || 22.0 |- | align="left" | 1998–99 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 48 || 48 || 41.5 || .412 || .291 || .751 || 4.9 || 4.6 || 2.3 || .2 || 26.8 |- | align="left" | 1999–00 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 70 || 70 || 40.8 || .421 || .341 || .713 || 3.8 || 4.7 || 2.1 || .1 || 28.4 |- | align="left" | 2000–01 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 71 || 71 || 42.0 || .420 || .320 || .814 || 3.8 || 4.6 || 2.5 || .3 || 31.1 |- | align="left" | 2001–02 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 60 || 59 || 43.7 || .398 || .291 || .812 || 4.5 || 5.5 || 2.8 || .2 || 31.4 |- | align="left" | 2002–03 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 82 || 82 || 42.5 || .414 || .277 || .774 || 4.2 || 5.5 || 2.7 || .2 || 30.6 |- | align="left" | 2003–04 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 48 || 47 || 42.5 || .387 || .286 || .745 || 3.7 || 6.8 || 2.4 || .1 || 27.4 |- | align="left" | 2004–05 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 75 || 75 || 42.3 || .424 || .308 || .835 || 4.0 || 7.9 || 2.4 || .1 || 30.7 |- | align="left" | 2005–06 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 72 || 72 || 43.1 || .447 || .323 || .814 || 3.2 || 7.4 || 1.9 || .1 || 33.0 |- | align="left" | 2006–07 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 15 || 15 || 42.7 || .413 || .226 || .885 || 2.7 || 7.3 || 2.2 || .1 || 31.2 |- | align="left" | 2006–07 | align="left" | Denver | 50 || 49 || 42.4 || .454 || .347 || .759 || 3.0 || 7.2 || 1.8 || .2 || 24.8 |- | align="left" | 2007–08 | align="left" | Denver | 82 || 82 || 41.8 || .458 || .345 || .809 || 3.0 || 7.1 || 2.0 || .2 || 26.3 |- | align="left" | Career | align="left" | | 829 || 824 || 41.8 || .426 || .314 || .780 || 3.8 || 6.3 || 2.3 || .1 || 27.9 |- | align="left" | All-Star | align="left" | | 8 || 8 || 27.9 || .420 || .667 || .769 || 2.8 || 6.6 || 2.5 || .1 || 16.0 |}


|- | align="left" | 1998–99 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 8 || 8 || 44.8 || .411 || .283 || .712 || 4.1 || 4.9 || 2.5 || .2 || 28.5 |- | align="left" | 1999–00 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 10 || 10 || 44.4 || .384 || .308 || .739 || 4.0 || 4.5 || 1.2 || .1 || 26.2 |- | align="left" | 2000–01 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 22 || 22 || 46.2 || .389 || .338 || .774 || 4.7 || 6.1 || 2.4 || .3 || 32.9 |- | align="left" | 2001–02 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 5 || 5 || 41.8 || .381 || .333 || .810 || 3.6 || 4.2 || 2.6 || .0 || 30.0 |- | align="left" | 2002–03 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 12 || 12 || 46.4 || .416 || .345 || .737 || 4.3 || 7.4 || 2.4 || .1 || 31.7 |- | align="left" | 2004–05 | align="left" | Philadelphia | 5 || 5 || 47.6 || .468 || .414 || .897 || 2.2 || 10.0 || 2.0 || .4 || 31.2 |- | align="left" | 2006–07 | align="left" | Denver | 5 || 5 || 44.6 || .368 || .294 || .806 || .6 || 5.8 || 1.4 || .0 || 22.8 |- | align="left" | 2007–08 | align="left" | Denver | 4 || 4 || 39.5 || .434 || .214 || .697 || 3.0 || 4.5 || 1.0 || .2 || 24.5 |- | align="left" | Career | align="left" | | 71 || 71 || 45.1 || .401 || .327 || .764 || 3.8 || 6.0 || 2.1 || .2 || 29.7 |}


See also

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