“Allen Iverson is one of the greatest guards to never win a championship”: Shaquille O’Neal applauds The Answer’s hustle to play

Arjun Julka
|Published 19/09/2021

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.

Also read: “Kevin Johnson made me cry my rookie year”: Allen Iverson admits that the first person to bust his a** in the NBA was the Suns legend

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.

Also read: “LeBron James is one of the best ever, but Michael Jordan is and always will be the GOAT”: Allen Iverson chooses his GOAT pick while narrating an interesting story of the Bulls legend

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.

About the author
Arjun Julka

Arjun Julka

Arjun Julka is a NBA author at The SportsRush. Basketball isn’t just a sport for this 26-year-old, who hails from Mumbai. He began watching the sport after stumbling upon a court in his society, helping him identify an undiscovered passion for the game of hoops. Now an ardent fan, Arjun supports Stephen Curry and the Warriors but also enjoys watching Giannis Antetokounmpo own the paint. When it comes to the GOAT debate, the TSR author feels LeBron James is yet to receive a lot of his due but cannot deny marveling at Michael Jordan’s resume.

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