Allen Iverson is prepared to officially announce his retirement from the NBA in the coming days, a source close to the native of Virginia told SLAM.
Iverson, 38, played his last professional basketball in Turkey in 2011. Before that, he appeared in his final NBA game, as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, in 2010.
When he last spoke publicly, at a Sixers game on March 30, Iverson answered a question about continuing his career by saying, “My No. 1 goal is trying to accomplish to be the best dad that I can. And if basketball is in my near future, then God will make that happen. But if not, I had a great ride and I’ve done a lot of special things that a lot of guys have not been able to accomplish and people thought I couldn’t accomplish.”
Included amongst those accomplishments are: 13-year career averages of 41.1 mpg, 26.7 ppg, 6.2 apg and 2.2 spg; 71-game Playoff averages 45.1 mpg, 29.7 ppg, 6.0 apg and 2.1 spg. He also won one regular season MVP award, four scoring titles and was named an All-Star 11 times. Maybe most impressive of all, omitting the obvious impact that he had on the culture off-court, was the resilience that the 6-0 guard showed in driving into the lane, into men a foot taller than him, time and time again.
“He might be the greatest athlete I’ve ever seen,” Larry Brown, Iverson’s coach from 1997-2003 and the current coach at SMU, told SLAM today. “I don’t think there’ll be another one like him.
“I’m sure we faced a lot of obstacles, maybe even on a daily basis, but when it came time to play, to try to win a game, he tried to play as hard as he could for his coach.”
“He had a magnificent career, and he enjoyed every minute of it,” says the source. “He enjoyed the places basketball took him, he enjoyed the camaraderie with his teammates and he especially enjoyed that his job was playing the game that he loved.”
In a lengthy sit-down interview with SLAM this past spring, Iverson was overcome with emotion when discussing his tenure in the NBA.
“It enabled me—and it has enabled me—to take care of my family,” said Iverson. “It brought me so many fans and people that love me. I met so many great people. And it made me, whether I like it or not, a role model. It built me up, it knocked me down, it taught me how to get back up. It did a lot for me.”
With basketball behind him, Iverson, the source says, hopes to place all of his energy on his business holdings and children.
“He loves his fans more than anyone,” says the source. “He loves how they ask for his return constantly, on the streets and on the internet. But now that they know it’s not happening, he can just focus on his future endeavors.”
Iverson will be eligible for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.
“If I’m blessed with being a Hall of Famer, it will be emotional,” Iverson said to SLAM last spring. “You can’t mention ‘Allen Iverson’ and don’t mention basketball.”
After starring at Georgetown, Iverson was selected No. 1 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1996. He also spent time with the Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies.
Since appearing in his final game, at Chicago in February of 2010, Iverson occasionally mentioned the desire to return to the NBA. But for various reasons, both in and out of his control, he was never signed as a free agent.
And now he never will be.
“He deserves better,” said Brown. “I wish he could’ve went out on his own terms, at his own time.”