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Allen Iverson - He did it his Way

Mete Aktas in Features 6 Nov 2013
Allen Iverson takes a shot

Allen Iverson retires

What does it take for a little man to dominate in the NBA? In Allen Iverson’s case, the answer was outrageous talent, in-your-face confidence and the heart of a giant. No one in the league could guard him off the dribble, no one his size went to the hoop with more authority, and no one poured in points like he did when he was in the highlight zone. 

Iverson retired last Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center, the site of so many of the moments he crafted into a Hall of Fame worthy career. “The Answer” led the Sixers to the 2001 NBA finals, won four scoring titles, and was an All-Star game fixture. Winning a championship is the lone void in a bio sheet that forever stamps him among the league's greats. 

The undersized guard with the supersized heart was a perfect match in a city that prizes authenticity and hustle as much as production.

The 38-year-old Iverson had not played an NBA game since Feb. 20, 2010, in his second, short-lived stint with the Sixers. The 6-foot, 165-pound guard also played for Denver, Detroit and Memphis over a 14-year career that has him 19th on the career scoring list with 24,368 points.
He also played in Turkey for Besiktas for a short stint before realizing the NBA doors would not open for him again.

Iverson always proclaimed his love of Philly, the fans and the Sixers and swore he wanted to end his career with the franchise that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 draft.

He fearlessly crashed the lane against players nearly a foot taller than him, played through countless injuries and reshaped the Sixers franchise. He transformed Philadelphia from lottery losers to contenders, though he couldn't bring home an NBA title to this championship-starved city. He came close in 2001, when the 76ers lost to the Lakers.

Iverson was arguably one of the four greatest Sixers, compiling a sparkling resume that put him in the mix with Julius “Dr.J” Erving, Wilt Chamberlain, and Charles Barkley. His No. 3 jersey was a best seller around the globe, the headband wrapped around his cornrows, and the tattoos were as much a part of his image as the way he ricochets around the court. Play every game like it was his last was more than a catchphrase, it was a lifestyle.

From the throwback jerseys to the diamonds on his ears, Iverson shaped a generation of kids that star in today's NBA.

However Iverson's years in Philadelphia were marred by arrests in 1997 for carrying a concealed weapon and for possession of marijuana and in 2002 over a domestic dispute with his wife. He was sentenced to community service in 1997 and all charges were dropped against him five years later.

On December 19, 2006, the Philadelphia 76ers sent Iverson to the Denver Nuggets. At the time of the trade, Iverson was the NBA's number two leading scorer with new teammate Carmelo Anthony being number one.

Iverson liked the possibility that he and fellow star Carmelo Anthony could make a run at a championship.

But the Nuggets were washed out of the playoffs in the first round two years running, and at the beginning of the third year, Iverson was traded to Detroit, because the Nuggets believed that at 33, he was slowing down.

Iverson scored at least 24 in four of his first five games with Detroit (They won 3 of the 5), and would score 20 or more and 6 or more assists on a consistent basis, but as the season wore on he would lose playing time to Rodney Stuckey.

In April 2009, it was announced by Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars that Iverson would not play the remainder of the 2008–09 season. Dumars cited Iverson's ongoing back injury as the reason for his deactivation, although two days prior Iverson stated publicly that he'd rather retire than be moved to the bench as Pistons coach Michael Curry had decided.

In September later that year Iverson signed a one-year contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. He stated that "God chose Memphis as the place that I will continue my career," and that "I feel that they are committed to developing a winner."

However, Iverson again expressed his displeasure at being a bench player, and left the team o for "personal reasons. A week later the Grizzlies announced the team terminated his contract by "mutual agreement”.

At the end of November, Iverson and his representatives met with a Philadelphia 76ers delegation about returning to his former team, and accepted a contract offer two days later. It was said hat Iverson agreed to a one-year non-guaranteed contract at the league minimum salary. 

In December, Iverson made his return to Philadelphia, garnering a thunderous ovation from the sold-out crowd, in a loss against his former team, the Denver Nuggets. He finished the game with 11 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, a steal and no turnovers.

But on February 22, 2010 Iverson left the 76ers indefinitely, citing the need to attend to his 4-year-old daughter Messiah's health issues.He had missed five games earlier in February and missed the All-Star Game after he was voted in as a starter. On March 2, Ed Stefanski announced Iverson would not return to the 76ers for the rest of the season.

Later that year Iverson agreed in principle to a two-year, $4 million net income contract with Beşiktaş, a Turkish Basketball League team competing in the Eurocup. The club announced the signing at a press conference in New York City. Wearing jersey number 4, Iverson made his debut for Beşiktaş on November 16, 2010, in a Eurocup 91-94 loss to Serbian side Hemofarm. Iverson scored 15 points in 23 minutes.

Iverson returned to the United States in January 2011 for calf surgery. He only played ten games for Beşiktaş that season, and did not play professional basketball after that. 

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