NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal heaps praise of Allen Iverson, calling him one of the greatest guards to never win a championship.
The 1st pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, Allen Iverson was selected, by the Philadelphia 76ers. The 1996 Draft had some of the best talents in league history, including Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, and Steve Nash. Standing at 6-feet tall, Iverson was the shortest player to be drafted as the 1st pick.
Size was never a drawback for AI as he had figured his way into the league. The former rookie of the year had great handles and could finish at the rim. Iverson was an elite scorer who never feared anyone. During the time, big men such as Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal dominated the game.
However, this never stopped AI from driving towards the basket. Iverson would be roughed up by the big men every time he entered the paint. However, the 11x All-Star would return the very next game.
4x NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal, who faced The Answer during the 2001 Finals, had nothing but respect for the former MVP.
Allen Iverson had a landmark 2000-01 season
Iverson was on another level during this season, leading the league in steals and scoring. The Philadelphia team had cemented itself as the top seed in the eastern conference. The same season would also mark, The Answer’s Finals debut.
The 4x scoring champion averaged 31.1 PPG, 4.6 APG, and 2.5 SPG on a 42.0% shooting from the field. AI was crowned the 2001 MVP owing to his spectacular performances. The 76ers would have a great playoff run, clinching their first berth in the NBA Finals since 1993.
The 76ers would face the defending champions LA Lakers in the Finals. The odds favored the Lakers going into the Finals as the duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant outmatched Iverson’s roster by miles.
Shaq was coming off one of the greatest NBA seasons, winning an MVP, Finals MVP, and scoring title the previous year. Though the Lakers would dominate the Finals, Iverson’s 48-point performance in Game One of the Finals, remains etched in history.
Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal has always held AI in very high regard. Big Diesel had never seen such a fearless guard, having played with him in the 2001 Finals.
Shaq on Allen Iverson: “The greatest guy never to win a championship? A.I. Toughest little guard ever? A.I. Toughest to guard? A.I.”
– Via Scoop B Radio pic.twitter.com/an0WuOJ5WP
— 👑 Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson 📍 (@ScoopB) September 17, 2021
In the 25 games he played against Shaq, Iverson averaged 27.1 PPG, 7.1 APG, and 2.6 SPG. AI was one of the first few guards in the league history who dominated the game despite their small size.