Being an 80's baby, when asked "who is your favorite basketball player of all time?" the answer flows almost naturally..."Michael Jordan".
But as I turned into the induction speeches of the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame members, I quickly realized which player really molded me and my generation of hoopers. Allen Iverson gave one of the best hall of fame speeches I've ever seen.
Wasn't the most grammatically correct or well structured, but was 100% A.I.
I was either 9 or 10 years old when my Dad and his good friend drove my brother and I to the University of Virginia to watch the high school state championship games. That night is my first memory of the man who will later be known as "The Answer". Iverson and is Bethel High School teammates breezed to a state title and I can still recall the "swag" which he played with, before "swag" was even a word.
A.I.'s rise to stardom seemed to run parallel to my development as a player and young man, a testament which I'm sure I share with thousands of others in my age bracket. From the non-tattoo having #3 at Georgetown University to the ïnked-up"sensation of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Iverson remained true to himself and where he came from (which didn't always appeal to the masses but over time you couldn't help but respect). His style tenacity and heart that was constantly displayed on the hardwood inspired a multitude of young basketball players to go out and carve out their own path to reach their goals.
Michael Jordan may be the "greatest of all time" and showed us how to work hard and was the ultimate competitor. But Iverson took all of that a step further and proved that it was okay to be comfortable in your own skin.
Thank you A.I.!