Allen Iverson is both overrated and underrated.
He is overrated as a player.
I’d see he had scored 30 points, and then look at the box score. He had scored 30 points mainly because he had launched 30 shots.
In 2001-2002, one of his finest seasons with the 76ers, Iverson averaged 31.4 points per game. But he shot only 39.8 percent from the field.
And yet …
He is underrated as a basketball revolutionary. Iverson ranks alongside Julius Erving, Connie Hawkins, David Thompson, Dominique Wilkins and a very few others as a basketball showman.
He could score on anyone, but Iverson’s greatest strength also was his greatest weakness. He believed no one could stop him, believed he could make any shot. Didn’t matter if five defenders surrounded him. He was going to shoot. And he shot far too much.
Iverson said goodbye to basketball on Wednesday in a largely ceremonial retirement announcement in Philadelphia. He showed up for the show in a black leather hoodie, black cap and gold chain. Typical Iverson.
“”I always felt like it was cool being me,” Iverson said.
I first saw Iverson in person when he was a freshman at Georgetown. He was listed at 6-foot, 160 pounds. He was not 6-foot, and he might have weighed 155. He was the quickest thing I had ever seen on a basketball court. He remains the quickest thing I have ever seen.
There are all kinds of ifs when it comes to Iverson.
If he had ever embraced the role of true point guard instead of embracing the rapid-fire approach.
If he had ever seized control of his have-fun-all-night lifestyle.
If he had been 6-foot-2, 190.
If he had understood the idea of disciplined shot selection.
But there is no if about this:
Allen Iverson played basketball his way. He didn’t listen to coaches or teammates or fans. He listened only to his own voice.