This feature was originally published on June 6, 2014.
There has arguably never been a more polarizing player in NBA history than Allen Iverson. Beloved for his gritty, hard-nosed style of play—which meshed perfectly with the city of Philadelphia’s blue collar mentality—and his swagger on the court, Iverson represented a group of people who had previously lacked visibility in professional basketball. In doing so, though, he often rubbed people the wrong way. He constantly faced questions surrounding his style of play and its success, and whether or not his body could hold up in the NBA. But in the face of all of the questions, he remained “The Answer.”
Iverson embodied everything urban and hip-hop during his playing career, from the cornrows to the tattoos. He became a trendsetter, specifically with his affinity for the shooting sleeve, which soon became an absolute necessity for hoopers across the country. While the previous generation of kids wanted to be like Mike, the following one wanted to be like Iverson. To a lot of NBA fans, there isn’t a more revered player.
Still, even with all of the adulation he received, he had his fair share of trials and tribulations. First there was the well-documented bowling alley riot he was involved in during his high school years, which resulted in a brief jail stint. Then, there was his refusal to come off the bench towards the end of his career, which ultimately led to his unfortunate exit from the NBA. His stubbornness was what made him great, but it came at a price.
Iverson was a superstar, and he left little to the imagination; he was an open book by all counts. But despite his lack of filter or censorship, there is still more than meets the eye when it comes to AI. In honor of his 43rd birthday, here are 15 things you probably didn’t know about Allen Iverson.