Allen Iverson – Still Relevant

I’ve seen Allen Iverson play basketball in person twice in my life. Once from a luxury suite at the very top of the United Center where if you looked out onto the court you could barely see anything. So I had to watch the game via closed circuit broadcast on a 40 inch plasma screen instead. Not the most ideal situation, but the gourmet chef and the refrigerator full of Miller products made the situation bearable.

The second time I saw him was again at the United Center, but this time I was a lot closer, about 10 rows back from the floor. This made it more special than the first time because not only was it the very last time he would ever play in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform, but for the first time in my life I could see that “physically”, there’s nothing really special about him. OK, so his arms might be long enough to sit in the back seat of my truck and open both doors at the same time…but outside of that, nothing. He’s just an average sized guy.

In the land of giants that is the NBA, his lack of size is what makes the things he’s done in his career so amazing. It’s also the reason why fans at home and on the road cheer so loudly for him. But it’s his style and his swagger that people love the most. If Michael Jordan can be credited with “styling” a whole generation of basketball players, then Allen Iverson has to be given credit for styling a whole generation of people

Before he rocked cornrows, players didn’t wear their hair braided. You didn’t even see people on the street with them. But when he started doing it, everybody started doing it. The tattoos…fughedaboudit! Yeah Dennis Rodman had a lot of them but he was such a weirdo that nobody was in a hurry to try and be like him. But when what started as a simple Bulldog and the words “The Answer” tattooed on his arm ballooned into what it is now, tattoo artists everywhere had AI to thank for all the people that ran to get ink. Some people went so far as to get his exact same tattoos (what up Tyson!).

Let’s also not forget his style on and off the court. You can’t watch a basketball game now without seeing somebody wearing a headband or a compression sleeve. Remember the “Ice Age”? Allen Iverson took wearing jewelry to another level while making Mitchell & Ness throwbacks, do-rags and New Era caps fly too. Not only did ordinary people copy everything he did, some of his fellow NBA brethren started doing the same. It got so out of hand that David Stern instituted a dress code to bring “professionalism” back and change the leagues perceived thug image.

He may not have been Madison Ave fashionable, but that wasn’t what he represented. That’s not who he is. AI represented the streets. AI represented the hip-hop generation; rebels that made individual self expression a way of life. And like the hip-hop generation he really didn’t care if you liked him or not; ever the non-conformist, he just wanted to make sure you respected his gangster. Many times in his life — just like on the court — people took shots at him and knocked him down, but it never stopped him. He got right back up and came even harder the next time…and the time after that too.  All heart, that’s what he is and that’s why so many people love him. For 13 years he had the courage to stand up in front of the whole world and be himself. For 13 years he influenced others to be just like him. 13 years later, this is what makes Allen Iverson relevant. Still…


One Response

  1. Trade AI

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