SportsNet Showcase: Allen Iverson's Legacy
Allen Iverson's No. 3 will be the eighth retired number by the Sixers. (AP)
Before the Sixers take on the Miami Heat in Wednesday night’s season opener, a ceremony honoring Allen Iverson’s never-dull decade in Philadelphia will take place. Iverson’s No. 3 will go up in the rafters alongside Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, Billy Cunningham and Moses Malone.
Eventually, Iverson will be elected into the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., but in the meantime, Philadelphia will get its day with The Answer.
After the Sixers’ final practice of the preseason on Tuesday at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, new coach Brett Brown was asked about how he remembered Iverson from his days as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.
The way Brown remembered Iverson is probably not unlike many others in the NBA.
“Philadelphia was my scout team for years and he was amongst the hardest people to scheme to guard,” Brown said. “He could do it in so many ways -- he was a great scorer and a great competitor.”
It wasn’t until Brown went to the All-Star Game as an assistant coach that he really understood how great Iverson was. In a small room with all 24 All-Stars, Brown said one player stood out the most just because of his size. Listed at 6-feet and 165 pounds, Iverson was easily the smallest guy in the room.
“I can’t believe how physically -- he’s small,” Brown said. “I’m looking at him and for him to do what he did on a night-to-night basis -- to get hit and fall down and get back up and have that fierce competitor in him with a smaller type of body -- he amazes me. He was one fierce, fierce competitor.”
And as a scout, just how did Brown try to stop Iverson? Or did he? After all, Iverson averaged 28 points per game against the Spurs for his career.
“You had to guard him with a team. We put size on him with Bruce Bowen,” Brown said. “And apples for apples, he was quick and he could rise up and you couldn’t get to his shot. We opted to space him a little bit and put length on him with Bruce Bowen and show a real crowd around him so he wasn’t able to dance and rise up. You had to crowd him and take away his space. Guarding him with anybody less than a full team, you had your hands full every night. And he always had some big games against the Spurs and we were always amongst the top teams in defense in the league. At times, we couldn’t [stop him].”
Brown and the Spurs were not alone. Not many teams could stop Iverson.