In perspective, Allen Iverson is basketball’s version of the Pope. Globally recognized as a figurehead of hip hop’s infusion into the NBA, he is the hero of the people and still connects with us today. His appeal is bigger than his wicked crossover, one with small stature, Hall of Fame game and his iconic shoe collection. He is someone who, through all his ups and downs, has always wanted the best for others and he’s always been the underdog you’d bet big on in any basketball scenario.
Iverson especially wants to give back to younger players. From former players like Baron Davis, to even LeBron James and Jimmy Butler currently, he embraces the youth. The next step in that is his Allen Iverson Roundball Classic. In its third year, he continues to increase the game’s platform and to help talented young players showcase their abilities.
What’s bigger than the basketball is that before the game, Iverson and other former players such as Stephen Jackson and Darius Miles sat down with all the players and gave them insight and advice. SLAM Magazine was given access to that talk and you can watch that in the video above (be mindful of the salty language).
Iverson is doing what we all hope our celebrities and even older people who’ve been through life do: teach and empower the youth. He doesn’t rest in his flaws and become a recluse. There is a humility to him and a graciousness that he seems to understand about how his life has unfolded. As he’s more than twice the age of the high schoolers he invited to his game, he still resonates with them. Iverson deserves to have this game reach the same notoriety as the McDonald’s All-American Game and others because he’s giving the kids real time advice and love.
Iverson’s hands-on approach to the event, and his desire to set it apart from the other end-of-season All-Star games, was on full display. From the 3-point shootout, dunk contest, and one-on-one and three-on-three challenges on the event’s opening night to Iverson’s courtside celebrations and interaction with the players throughout, his commitment is evident.
The Answer’s active participation in the selection of the rosters also demonstrates his commitment to the Classic and underscores his desire to give the kids a chance to shine. While there was no lack of high-end, well-known talent at this year’s classic (four McDonald’s All-Americans), Iverson and staff also consciously sought out under the radar players in hopes of giving them a platform and an unforgettable experience. As a result, players like Isaiah Wong, Boogie Ellis, Joshua Pierre-Louis, Jahmius Ramsey, Aidan Igiehon, Zeke Nnaji, and DJ Carton were able to shine and show what they can do.
Allen Iverson loves young people and he is a reminder that we should all embrace them. All hail The Answer, as always.
Poemer. 8-time Hug Champion. Pick&Roll Enthusiast. Guardian of Logic and Tact. Apocalypse’s good Brother. Collector of muted souls for Mt. Filtermanjaro.