“Allen Iverson paved the way for the Kyrie Irvings and Damian Lillards of the world”: The Sixers legend’s unorthodox demeanor inspired generations

Arjun Julka
|Published 10/04/2022

An icon both on and off the court, Allen Iverson paved the way for smaller guards in the NBA. The Sixers legend was a game-changer in the truest sense.

Allen Iverson was the no.1 overall pick in the iconic draft class of 1996, which consisted of Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, and Steve Nash. Coming from humble beginnings, Iverson is considered one of the best success stories of all time in the NBA.

Whether good or bad, The Answer defied all norms. Listed close to six feet tall, AI was the shortest player to be drafted as the no.1 overall pick in NBA history. In an era known for its dominant bigs like Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, and Hakeem Olajuwon. Iverson created his niche.

The Answer was one of the most skilled guards known for his ball-handling skills and ability to finish at the rim. The four-time scoring champion never shied away from driving to the paint despite being undersized and getting beat down by the big men.

Also read: “In 2020, Allen Iverson had jewelry worth half a million stolen from a hotel in Philadelphia”: The alleged thief would, however, surrender himself 

It would not be wrong to call Iverson the flag bearer for making the NBA more of a guard-dominant league today.

The enigma: Allen Iverson

If there was anyone close to the popularity and impact of Michael Jordan, it was Iverson. One of Philly’s favorite children, AI earned the status of a cultural icon. The superstar made equal if not more noise off the court than on the hardwood with his antics.

The Answer was known for his outfits and heavy accessories, heavily inspired by the hip-hop culture at the time. Iverson was not ready to shed off his image of being a boy from the hood. His legendary cornrows hairstyle is something still emulated.

The eleven-time All-Star brought what we now call swagger and drip to the NBA. Though he was not the ideal role model, he inspired a host of players like Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, and Kyrie Irving. His mesmerizing crossovers and dribbling skills paved the way for smaller guards in the league.

His anti-authority nature was an intriguing factor for his growing fan following. Iverson’s refusal to comply with David Stern’s dress-code mandate or his rifts with the Sixers coaches and front office made him the anti-hero everyone liked.

Also read: “Allen Iverson carrying the Sixers by himself to the Finals resonated with me”: Kawhi Leonard confesses to idolizing The Answer while growing up

Though not the cliche role model, Iverson inspired a generation of athletes.

 


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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