Michael Jordan was the idol of most players who debuted in the 90s and 00s. Allen Iverson was no different, as he always insists.
MJ was a larger-than-life figure in the 1990s. Even before he ever won his first NBA title, people had recognized his extraordinary level of play. He was greeted with more cheers than the Pope when he went to Barcelona with the Dream Team in 1992.
It was Jordan’s aesthetic play and level of finesse that made the NBA a truly global product. There’s something about his entire persona that people found magnetic, something that filled up seats wherever he went to play.
.@TheTraeYoung has 16 40-point contests in his career. ❄️
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) April 11, 2021
Allen Iverson reveals how he approached Michael Jordan as a rookie
Iverson spoke to NBA TV as part of an interview snippet with the 1996 NBA draft class. This is what he said about the first time he faced the magical Chicago Bulls in 1996-97:
“Just like I had seen umpteen times as a kid, the music comes on, the lights go out. Chicago Bulls run out, and MJ’s the last one and I just couldn’t believe this is what I was looking at. Because I had seen this over and over again.”
“I remember it like it was yesterday. That it didn’t seem real … I’m looking at him like he was glowing. He looked totally different than everybody else on the court.”
“And I’m looking at the Jordans, I’m like, ‘Damn, he got on the Jordans.’ … Once that ball went up in the air, everything went away. It was like, time to dance.”
“The people who went in ’96 are among the best to ever play the game.”
Ready or Not: The ’96 NBA Draft // Sunday @ 8pm ET on NBA TV pic.twitter.com/8mShOfQZTr
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 6, 2021
And dance Iverson did, as he crossed MJ up for good in one of the most famous NBA highlights ever.