By David Jordan
The Answer. Bubba Chuck. A.I. Jewelz. The greatest little man to ever play the game. These are all of the names (nicknames if you will) of Allen Ezail Iverson. There are plenty of facts and statistics that support not only these nicknames but also the discussions from some that have concluded Allen Iverson is the greatest little man to ever play the game of basketball. From the moment that Iverson stepped on the national scene as a scintillating point guard for the Georgetown Hoyas in the fall of 1994, “The Answer” provided everybody blessed with the opportunity to see him play countless breath taking moments to marvel at his greatness on the basketball court. There is one fact that many people choose to ignore when it comes to Allen Iverson; he was the face of the NBA after the retirement of Michael Jordan. The impact that this man had on the game of basketball was as significant on the court as it was off of the basketball court. Before Allen Iverson entered the league, Dennis Rodman was the only NBA player to be tatted up to the extent of being ostracized and judged for his personal expression; enter AI.
1996 was the year. The mid 90’s was a great time in the world of NBA basketball, as Michael Jordan had returned back to the league and younger superstars such as Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal & Grant Hill were etching their places into the historical landscape of NBA history. Hip Hop legends Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. were both still alive making hits that would change the course of hip hop history for both good and bad. The Philadelphia 76ers made Allen Iverson their number one draft pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. The AI NBA takeover began on draft night, was validated by the “crossover heard ‘round the world” that Michael Jordan was a victim of and was solidified by him winning the NBA Rookie Of The Year.
A Solid foundation to build greatness and transcend not only the league, but the world. The first step of Allen Iverson’s trendsetting imagery was during the 1997 NBA All Star Weekend as he wore cornrow braids for the Schick Rookie Game; he was the 1st player ever to wear cornrow braids in a NBA game. By the start of the 1997-1998 season the braids became a permanent trademark of Iverson. When the lockout shortented 1998-1999 seasoned tipped off, Allen came back with an assortment of tattoos christening his body and providing an image for those that wanted to emulate his on court greatness. The braids and the tattoos were made cool and fashionable by AI. By the time Iverson had hit the world stage during the 2000-2001 NBA Season, he had All Star appearances, shoe endorsements, commercials; the winning that became norm for the 76ers that year validated his growth as a basketball player as he not only won the NBA’s most valuable Player award but he also led the 76ers to the NBA Finals against the defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers. From that point in time to present day you can see the impact of Allen Iverson from the basketball courts around the world to the board rooms of major corporations worldwide. The braids, the tatts, the ice, the arm sleeve all can be attributed to him. Black people, white people, Asian people etc were all wearing cornrow braids after Allen Iverson began wearing his braids.
NBA players, college players, high school players, YMCA players an even entertainers can be seen wearing the Iverson Sleeve” worldwide. The old adage, big things come in small packages accurately describes Bubba Chuck. One of the smallest players on the court to ever play on the biggest stage had one of the most profound effects on not only the game but the world in terms of trendsetting. Numbers will never change; they’ve been established. Legacies are created, trends are created and they will always be remembered. Allen Iverson’s greatness is personified by his individuality. He was the greatest NBA player to do the things that he did and will forever be the greatest player to do the things he did the way he did the, Salute to you AI. THANK YOU!