Answer is In! Iverson Headed to Hall as Part of 2016 Induction Class

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has given its answer.  Allen Iverson is in.  

On Monday, the six-foot guard from Georgetown was revealed as a member of the Hall of Fame’s 2016 enshrinement class.  The announcement was made at the House of Blues in Houston, the city where the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four and National Championship are being held.

“I wanted to be like Mike,” Iverson told ESPN in an interview shortly after the news broke on Monday morning, referring to Michael Jordan.  “I wasn’t 6’6.”  I had to do it at a six-foot frame, 165 pounds.  I wanted to jump like Mike, I wanted to shoot like [Larry] Bird, I wanted to be fast like Isiah [Thomas], I wanted to rebound like [Charles] Barkley.”

“I just honor and respect the guys before me that gave me the vision.”

Several of the other 2016 inductees include former center and four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal, Michigan State men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo, and WNBA standout Sheryl Swoopes.  Sixers Chairman of Basketball Operations Jerry Colangelo was in attendance.  He also serves as Chairman of the Hall of Fame.  

From 1996 through 2010, Iverson appeared in 985 NBA games, wowing fans and earning the respect of peers, coaches, and league alumni for his tough, relentless, and passionate style of play, all while proving to be one of the most determined, dynamic, and prolific performers the league has ever seen.

While Iverson had stints with the Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, and Memphis Grizzlies in the twilight of his career, the Hampton, Virginia native, who turns 40 years old this June, will always be associated with the 76ers.  Holding the top overall draft pick for just the second time in franchise history, the team selected Iverson number one nearly 20 years ago.  He spent the better part of his first 11 campaigns with the Sixers, and later returned for a second engagement with the club midway through the 2009-2010 season, which would be his last in the NBA.

The NBA record book represents as good a place to start as any when it comes to quantifying Iverson’s standing among the league’s greats.   As of Monday, the Answer held the following notable all-time ranks:

  • 28th in field goals made (8,467)

  • 74th in three-point field goals (1,059)

  • 12th in free throws (6,375)

  • 43rd in assists (5,624)

  • 48th in assists per game (6.2)

  • 13th in steals (1,983)

  • 10th in steals per game (2.2)

  • 23rd in points (24,368)

  • 7th in points per game (26.7)

  • 4th in minutes per game (41.1)

  • 3rd in usage percentage (31.8).

In the context of Sixers’ history, Iverson’s statistical placement is much more substantial:

  • 3rd in field goals made (6,962)

  • 1st in three-point field goals (885)

  • 2nd in free throws (5,122)

  • 3rd in assists (4,385)

  • 8th assists per game (6.1)

  • 2nd in steals (1,644)

  • Tied 1st in steals per game (2.3)

  • 2nd in points (19,931)

  • Tied 1st in points per game (27.6)

  • 6th in games played (722)

  • 2nd in minutes (29,879)

  • 2nd in minutes per game (41.4)

  • 1st in usage percentage (33.2)

Iverson was named the 1997 NBA Rookie of the Year, the 2001 NBA MVP, and 2001 and 2005 NBA All-Star Game MVP.  Iverson led the league in scoring four times (1999, 2001, 2002, 2005), and three times topped the NBA in steals, doing so in three consecutive seasons from 2001 through 2003.

On top of his numerical achievements and individual awards, Iverson distinguished himself on and off the court with his personality, his brand, and his heart.  Perhaps more than any other factor, the combination of these traits, in addition to him being a superior athlete, allowed Iverson to create as strong a connection to the Delaware Valley as any modern day professional athlete to have  passed through Philadelphia.

The peak of Iverson’s tenure in the NBA, and with the Sixers, came, of course, during the organization’s run to the 2001 NBA Finals.  That season, the squad compiled a 56-26 record, its best mark with Iverson on the roster.  Then a second time All-Star, Iverson paced the league with averages of 31.1 points and 2.5 steals per game that year.

In his sit-down with ESPN on Monday, Iverson said the positive feedback he received from Larry Brown throughout his career represented some of the best compliments he has ever been given.

As for the legacy Iverson hopes his career has left, the 11-time All-Star said, “Playing every game like it was your last.  Giving everything you’ve got, loving your teammates, loving your coaches, loving your fans, and giving them everything you’ve got.  And just making sure that might be the only game that they ever get to see Allen Iverson play, so I took it like that, and I approached the game like that.  I wanted to make sure I put on a show for that one person that might never get to see another game again.”

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016 inductions will take place on Friday, September 9th in Springfield, Massachusetts, where the Hall of Fame is located.

Iverson will be the 14th former player in the existence of the Sixers / Syracuse Nationals franchise to be inducted.  He joins Charles Barkley (2006), Al Cervi (1985), Wilt Chamberlain (1979), Billy Cunningham (1986), Julius Erving (1993), Hal Green (1982), Bailey Howell (1997), Moses Malone (2001), Bob McAdoo (2000), Dikembe Mutombo (2015), Dolph Schayes (1998), Chet Walker (2012), and George Yardley (1996).

Iverson became eligible for Hall of Fame election this year after rules were changed to let players in after four full seasons of retirement, instead of five.