5 Things You Never Knew About Allen Iverson

There are some retired NBA stars who never seem to completely leave the spotlight, and 76ers legend Allen Iverson is one of them. He’s always coming up in conversations about anything from the evolution of league culture to inspiration for smaller point guards. And in recent years he’s made himself a fixture in Philly once more, involving himself with the team in a variety of ways and further endearing himself to a passionate fan base.

As we head toward the latter half of the 2021-22 NBA season though, there’s a good bet we’re about to be seeing and hearing even more about AI, because Philadelphia now has the most competitive team it’s had since Iverson dragged a squad of role players to the 2001 finals. If the Sixers make a run toward the finals this year — as more and more people seem to expect them to do — there will be a lot of retro AI highlights in circulation, and hopefully some fresh interviews as well.

Thinking about all of this, and Iverson’s place in the NBA history, I wound up doing a little bit of a deep dive. And as is often the case with such colorful characters, I came to realize that there are a lot of little, interesting things about AI that even a lot of NBA fans aren’t aware of. So here I’ve compiled a few things you (probably) never knew about The Answer.

1 – “The Answer” Wasn’t His First Nickname

The Answer is one of the great nicknames in league history, and still casts a bit of a shadow over current league nicknames (as alluded to in our list of ‘10 Current NBA Players with the Best Nicknames’). But it actually wasn’t Iverson’s first nickname. As a boy and growing up, he was referred to by at least some in his close circles as “Bubba-Chuck” — a moniker apparently inspired by the names of two uncles. I’m going to go ahead and say The Answer is better, though it’s a bit interesting that “Chuck” was in there given that Iverson would star for Charles (“Chuck”) Barkley’s franchise in Philly.

2 – He Was Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison

If you’re a fan of Iverson, you may well have heard of the infamous bowling alley brawl that got him in a little bit of trouble with the police when he was in high school. What isn’t always mentioned in this story though is that Iverson was initially handed a 15-year prison sentence — which, clearly, would have robbed him of his career in basketball. The Versed details the story, explaining that a charge of “maiming by mob” stood to get Iverson tried as an adult at age 17 and put away for 15 years. It was only when the governor of Virginia granted Iverson clemency due to insufficient evidence that Iverson was released from prison. He would start his college career at Georgetown (where he was an instant phenom) soon thereafter.

3 – He’s Dabbled in Pro Poker

On a lighter note, many may also not realize that in recent years Iverson has begun to dabble in pro poker. It’s not entirely clear how long he’s been at it, but Poker.org included him on a recent list of “world-class athletes who are also poker stars.” The list pointed out that Iverson had appeared in a Poker Kings video alongside celebrated player Phil Ivey, and later took a stab at the 2021 World Poker Tour Spring Festival Main Event. We’ll find out if this is more of a hobby or a serious venture, but frankly it would be a blast if The Answer starts turning up regularly at professional and/or celebrity poker events.

4 – He Was Almost Jesus

Shuttlesworth, that is. The iconic role Jesus Shuttlesworth, played by Ray Allen in the film He Got Game, almost went to Iverson instead. In fact, the story goes that Iverson was the first choice of director Spike Lee, but ultimately turned the role down. This might not have been a brilliant career move, though given how many basketball fans still love this movie, I suppose Allen worked out. He’s actually reasonably convincing, even if it’s Denzel Washington who carries the film.

5 – He’s Six Feet Tall

Allen Iverson may well be the best player of all time who stood 6’0’’ or shorter. But over the years this distinction seems to have led to a warped perception that Iverson is tiny. He’s discussed as if it was simply a marvel that he could compete on an NBA court, and when Isaiah Thomas was exploding onto the scene for the Celtics a few years ago, Iverson was the comparison. In everything from ESPN segments to NBA podcasts to Sportscasting.com, the question was asked: Is Isaiah Thomas the new Allen Iverson? The sentiment made sense, but Thomas is 5-foot-9. So lest NBA fans forget — and for younger fans who don’t recall watching Iverson play — I want to clarify. Iverson was a marvel, and unusually short for such an impactful scorer. But he was still a 6’0’’ athlete.

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