Today appears to have unceremoniously been Allen Iverson's last day as a 76er which should be noted as a sad day for hoops fans everywhere - not just in Philly. Although technically his last night on the court appears to have been a 30 point loss in Chicago a couple of weeks ago where he went for 13pts and 3 assts, today AI was released from the Sixers so he could spend more time with his ailing 4 year old daughter. Barring a major injury to another aging two-guard scorer on a playoff team in the next couple of weeks, its unlikely Iverson will be re-signed and its quite possible that he has played his last game in the NBA.
AI may have changed the game more than any player since Jordan - as his unique "urban" (aka - thug) style opened the door for players like Lebron and Kobe to be international superstars covered in tatts or carrying wrap sheets. He was the first guy to wear cornrows and seriously sag his shorts. He wore a crooked pro-hat with a fur lined hoodie to most press conferences, flexed a goatee and genuinely didn't care what the suits thought about it. Most guys his size couldn't dream of getting to the NBA, let alone doing it while giving the proverbial bird to the rest of the league. But that's what fans had to love about AI - he played harder than anyone, took more abuse than anyone, and still scored at will and dominated for most of his initial 10+ years in Philly.
The pinnacle of his career came in 2001 when he took an otherwise useless Sixers squad to the NBA Finals and actually pulled off a win in LA in Game 1 - before the mighty Lakers dominated the rest of the series. In that game, he made an obscene step-back, reversed cross-over fade away from the corner that actually caused Tyrone Lue to drop to the ground... where AI graciously stepped over him on his way back up court.
The Answer always played Reebok, which was a bit of a dissapointment for Nike brand sneakerheads like myself (although his 2nd and 3rd Answer lines were pretty fresh), but that was AI - always doing stuff a little different.
He was a true NBA superstar and although he will definitely never play in another practice, he will be sorely missed for his enthusiasm and heart by hoops fans everywhere - and if he cant make it in the NBA anymore, there is always a spot for him on our team.