The most iconic star in the league between Michael Jordan’s 2nd retirement and the arrival of LeBron James, Allen Iverson has known it all or almost, between shattering highs and depressing lows. With this experience, he relentlessly hammered a piece of advice in the form of a pithy prediction to the King.
When we talk about the impact of different players on the history of the NBA, impossible not to mention Allen Iverson. By his game, by his look, by his attitude, by his style, The Answer greatly influenced the NBA at the turn of the 1990s and 2000s. Hip-hop, tattoos, braids, crossovers: AI was him- even until the end, whether it rained or not.
This position earned him the adoration of some as much as the contempt of others, and he never forgot it. So when a certain LeBron James came into the league to take over in terms of impact and popularity, Iverson took him under his wing. Better, he made him a prediction of rare precision. He explained at the time:
I’m always clear with LeBron, man. I always tell him: “They love you for now, but listen to me, please: at the first incident, the first time something is going to happen … They are just waiting for this”.
Indeed, the honeymoon between LeBron James and public opinion came to an abrupt end when the latter decided to join the Heat in 2010.
The Chosen One certainly mismanaged his departure by staging it via ESPN, but he suffered a huge wave, in the purest tradition of “heroes become zeros” in the eyes of the media and fans. He himself was surprised at the hatred he crystallized around this time … but not Iverson, who knew all too well what it was.
Fortunately, the years have allowed LeBron James to redeem an image with the general public. His coronation in 2016, unanimously considered one of the most beautiful and deserving in history, helped to restore his image, and he is now respected by the greatest number – and rightly so.
Iverson, him, remained a model for the following generations, even if he sometimes divided during his prime. Very encouraging to current players, The Answer has achieved this status as a respected icon, and his contribution to the evolution of the NBA is now respected by all. We can only regret that these outpourings of love towards AI were not present when he was in activity …
Clever and cynical, Allen Iverson knew what awaited LeBron James long before LeBron himself. And the future has, as often, proved him right …