The NBA's most wicked ankle-breaking MVP, Allen Iverson—a ball-handling hero that inspired a generation of vertically challenged Filipino ballers—is coming to Manila this November! Though his NBA career may have come to an abrupt end, the Philadelphia 76ers great remains a superstar in our hearts.
Now, before we shed man-tears here, we'll share Allen's series of activities, collectively dubbed "All In," taking place in a few months' time:
- To be clear, Allen Iverson will not be playing in a game
- But there will be a game: a charity contest between his street ball squad "Ball Up," and a selection of local selection from the UAAP and NCAA
- Allen Iverson will be coaching "Ball Up"
- Allen Iverson will be sharing hoops wisdom with our local players, and conducting clinics
- No, you won't be able to pay Allen Iverson to break your ankles
As a man that schooled the NBA for more than a decade with step-back jumpers, spin moves, circus shots, and generally by being the tiniest hardcourt bully the basketball world has ever seen, it figures that we could learn a lot from him. What lessons? Here are a few:
Lesson 1: How to become a legend by going against a legend
Iverson recalls the moment: "The craziest thing about it is I hit him (Michael Jordan) with my best move, and he still almost blocked it."
Lesson 2: How to inspire a generation of Russell Westbrook- and Derrick Rose-type hyper-athletic point guards
Iverson was known for his crossovers but, for a six-footer, he could also abuse the rim pretty nastily with a dunk—setting the table for the onslaught of 6'3" and 6'4" guys that could rattle the rim like Shawn Kemp.
Lesson 3: How to start the step-back jumper revolution
The step-back jumper is now a staple among NBA guards, with Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry being two of the prime examples. But just to illustrate how big an influence A.I. is to today's guard play, The Answer was one of the most consistent users of this weapon, and thus also its proponent.
Lesson 4: How to celebrate an epic shot
Proving that his cat-quick between-the-legs step-back J wasn't just a gimmick, A.I. did it on the big stage, the 2001 NBA Finals.
And he punctuated it by hopping over his defender, the unfortunate Tyronn Lue, in front of the Laker bench, thus creating a post-basket celebration that's as iconic as Michael Jordan's The Shrug in the 1992 NBA Finals.
"Iverson fully understood what he’d done as soon as it happened. He paused for just a moment to admire his own brilliance, then looked down at Tyronn Lue with a gravity-shifting amount of smugness and contempt, stuck a sword through his heart, then stepped over the body he’d just dead-ed."
Sure, the Sixers would lose the series eventually to the Shaq-Kobe-powered Lakers, 4-1, but that scene gave small basketball players the confidence to go against giants.