Although the Sixers are in the midst of a 14 game losing streak and an awful season, the Sixers and their fans had something to cheer for during halftime of a game against Washington Wizards as Allen Iverson’s jersey was retired. Earlier this season Iverson announced his official retirement from basketball on October 30,2013, on the Sixers opening night against the Miami Heat and that proved to be a good night as the Sixers upset the defending NBA champions. AI played 16 seasons that included two stints with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Denver Nuggets, the Detroit Pistons, the Memphis Grizzlies, and Turkish team Besiktas to end his career.
Iverson played two years at Georgetown and then was selected with the number one pick in the 1996 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. At 6 feet tall, Iverson became the shortest first overall pick ever. Iverson took the NBA by storm as he was named 1996 NBA Rookie of the Year and the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Iverson averaged 23.5 points per game, 7.5 assists per game, and 2.1 steals per game. The biggest highlight of his rookie season for Iverson was when he crossed over the publicly perceived greatest ever Michael Jordan and when that happened people had a feeling this player was going to be something special. The first successful season the Sixers had with Iverson was in the lockout shortened 1998-1999 season as the Sixers made the playoffs with a 28-22 record. Iverson led the league in scoring for the first time that season averaging 26.8 points and was named to the All NBA first team. AI led averaged 28.5 points in the playoffs as he led the Sixers past the third seed Orlando Magic but were bounced by the Indiana Pacers in the second round. Iverson led the Sixers to a 49-33 record and to the playoffs the following season but were bounced in the second round again by the Indiana Pacers. AI was selected to the Eastern Conference All Star team for the first time of what would be 11 straight all star selections. Following the successful season, the Sixers trying to trade Iverson due to arguments with head coach Larry Brown but was not traded and put his differences with Larry Brown aside.
Iverson led the Sixers to the last great season in 2000-2001 as the team went to the NBA Finals. Iverson was named an All Star starter and won the game’s MVP award. The Sixers posted a 56-26 record which was the best record in the Eastern Conference that season. Iverson averaged a then career high 31.1 which gave him second NBA scoring title in his career and also averaged a league leading 2.5 steals. AI was named the NBA MVP for the first time while receiving 93 of 124 first place votes. The Sixers lost 4-1 in The Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers but AI provided one of his greatest moments in his career as he hit the game winning shot in Game 1 on the road against the Lakers. After the shot, as Tyronn Lue sat on the ground AI stepped over Lue creating one of the most iconic moments in Sixers history.
The following season Iverson was injured often only playing 60 games but still led the Sixers to playoffs with a record of 43-39 and still led the NBA in scoring for the second year in a row averaging 31.4 points. This was also the same season that Iverson made his infamous practice speech as Iverson said, “We’re sitting here, I’m supposed to be a franchise player, and we’re in here talking about practice.” After the 2002-2003 season the Sixers were eliminated in playoffs, head coach Larry Brown left the team and said that he and Iverson were on good terms. Over the next three seasons Iverson became more and more frustrated with franchise and was then traded to the Denver Nuggets on December 19,2006.
On December 7,2009 Iverson made his return in a Sixers uniform to a thunderous sold out crowd but the Sixers fell to the Denver Nuggets. Iverson posted 11 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds. one steal, and no turnovers. Iverson scored 20 points in his first win against the Golden State Warriors. Iverson then left the team indefinitely on February 22,2010 due to his 4 year old daughter Messiah’s health issues. On March 2,2010 GM at the time Ed Stefanski announced that Iverson would not return to the 76ers for the rest of the season.
During halftime of the game against the Wizards, Iverson’s ceremony began with the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver then spoke highly of Iverson and what he done for the game. Then, Comcast Sportsnet’s play-by-play announcer Marc Zumoff and the presenting of all of his all star game jerseys. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver then talked very high of Iverson and what he done for the game. Iverson then got the microphone and began the speech by saying, “I feel like I am dreaming. Let me see if I am dreaming.” AI then did his signature pose by putting his hand to his ear which the crowd went nuts for. Iverson ended the speech by saying, “Dr.J, Moses Malone, Mo Cheeks, Charles Barkley, Bobby Jones — are you serious? My name can now be mentioned with those names. Show me the fool who says dream don’t come true because they do.” Iverson was a showman during the speech that was engaging and heartfelt.