Opinion: Why Allen Iverson deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame

Ty Sugick

On Monday, the NBA announced this year’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016. On this list, the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Tom Izzo, Yao Ming and Allen Iverson are named.

Out of the 10 inductees, the one who stands out the most is Allen Iverson. He was the first overall pick in the 1996 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers after spending two seasons at Georgetown University. The six-foot-tall combo guard immediately took the league by storm, averaging 23.5 points per game in his rookie season.

Iverson would go on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in that season, the first of many awards he would receive. Throughout his career, Iverson averaged 26.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game and would become a four-time scoring champion in the league — all very impressive for a guy who is clearly undersized by NBA standards.

The numbers speak for themselves, proving Iverson was a force in the NBA. For anyone who challenged him, you could be sure he had an answer for them —hence his nickname in the league, “The Answer.”

Iverson deserves the Hall of Fame recognition for more than just his play; he was a trendsetter with his baggy clothes and a variety of tattoos covering his skin. Allen not only had answers for the doubters on the court, but off the court as well.

As the league tried to make new rules during Iverson’s earlier years to contain his bad-boy image, he refused to change. Iverson always remained himself and made the world accept him for who he was.

Iverson embodied the shooting ability of Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, the dribbling of Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul, the speed and agility of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook and the steely mentality of the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant.

One of the best traits of Iverson was that he was not afraid to sit down and defend, which is a quality that many NBA superstars lack in today’s game.

Iverson took a franchise like the 76ers and carried the team to multiple playoff appearances. In 2001, he led the team to the NBA Finals. In an iconic moment, Iverson shook current Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue with a crossover dribble before hitting the shot over a fallen Lue. Iverson then walked over top of Lue. Although the Sixers would lose the series, Iverson still found a way to steal the shine from the Lakers.

Life wasn’t always easy for Iverson. He was involved in an altercation at a bowling alley during his junior year of high school that had him dealing with legal troubles. Originally sentenced to 15 years in prison, Iverson’s athletic career seemed to be over. He would catch a break, however. After five months in prison, he was released due to lack of evidence.

Iverson is an inspiration to anyone who has been told they are too small or that they would never make it out of poverty and despair. He proved to the world that a person doesn’t have to conform to the majority’s views in order to fit in, and people can be positive role models after being granted a second chance.

Iverson is more than just a basketball player: He is an urban trailblazer who deserves to be listed among the greats.

Ty Sugick is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].