Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson, with ball, drives by Shaquille O’Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers during regular-season National Basketball Association (NBA) action. During the 1998-99 NBA season, the 6-ft (1.8-m) Iverson became the shortest NBA player ever to lead the league in scoring, averaging nearly 27 points per game. He was named the league’s most valuable player (MVP) in 2001.
Allen Iverson, born in 1975, American professional basketball player, one of the top scorers in the National Basketball Association (NBA) despite his relatively small size. Known to fans as The Answer, the 6-ft (1.83-m), 165-lb (75-kg) shooting guard has remarkable speed and agility that make him one of the best offensive and defensive players in the game.
Allen Ezail Iverson was born in Hampton, Virginia, and was raised by his mother. At Bethel High School he was named the 1993 Virginia player of the year in both football and basketball. Iverson played basketball at Georgetown University for two seasons (1994-95 and 1995-96), and he led the Hoyas in scoring and won the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in both of them. After his sophomore year at Georgetown, Iverson announced he would turn professional.
The Philadelphia 76ers made Iverson the first pick of the 1996 NBA draft. Although his team struggled, Iverson averaged 23.5 points and 7.5 assists per game in his first season to win the Rookie of the Year award. In his third year, the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, he became the shortest scoring champion in NBA history with a 26.8-point average. Iverson’s lightning speed and amazing ball-handling skills made him nearly unguardable, even when opponents double- and triple-teamed him.
In the 2000-01 season Iverson guided the 76ers to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1983. Although Philadelphia lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games, Iverson scored 48 points in the first game of the series to send the Lakers to their only loss of the playoffs. With a league-leading 31.1 points-per-game scoring average for that season, Iverson was named the NBA most valuable player (MVP). In 2001-02 he won the scoring title for a third time with a career-high 31.4 points per game.
Throughout his career Iverson has been criticized for being selfish, undisciplined, and rebellious. While still a teenager he spent four months in prison for his involvement in a 1993 bowling alley brawl, although the conviction was later overturned. In 1997 he was arrested on drugs and weapons charges. Three years later NBA commissioner David Stern reprimanded Iverson for recording a rap album with offensive lyrics. His legal troubles continued in 2002 when he was arrested in an incident involving his wife, but all charges were eventually dropped.
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