TopicThe NBA and that's not a goal of mine
Family, friends, fans, photographers and videographers with occupational statuses ranging from amateur to professional — it really didn't matter who they were. They all followed a shoeless Allen Iverson, a modern-day, heavily tattooed Pied Piper who has aged more than anyone would care to acknowledge, as he walked off the court in the Spectrum Center, where he had thrown each of his sneakers to screaming fans during the Big3 basketball league's stop in Charlotte on Sunday.Iverson and basketball have a symbiotic relationship. Iverson is who he is because of basketball, NBA Live Mobile Coins and the game is better because Iverson played it. The game has giveth money, fame and fortune to Iverson. "My face will bring in checks," he said. "My legend brings in checks." But the game has also taketh.The 42-year-old father of five plodded his way to the interview room, with an ice pack in tow due to a recent knee injury, after just 11 minutes of halfcourt action."I'm not Allen Iverson at 25 any more," he said. "I'm 42 years old and been away from the game for six, seven years, so for you to think that you're coming to see a game for Allen Iverson being 'The Answer' for real, for real, it's not going to happen."His name was nearly added to the Big3's list of casualties, which includes Jason Williams, Kenyon Martin and Corey Maggette, who were lost during Week 1.
While fighting through a screen Sunday, Iverson suffered a knee-to-knee blow that drew a collective gasp from the fans in the arena. He checked out of the game during the next stoppage in play and later commented how he couldn't stand up too quickly after sitting down."Hopefully this knee don't linger on because of my old-ass age," he said.MORE: Iverson on why he'll never coach in NBAIverson is a shell of his younger self physically and athletically. He is long past his days of slamming home tip-dunks in traffic and deploying his silky crossover to create space for jump shots. But his decision to participate in the Big3 didn't hinge on him playing like an NBA MVP. He just wants to stir up those memories — not for him, but the fans."I felt like it would be a great idea for the fans to just have those flashbacks," Iverson said, "have them memories of coming to support me like they've done all of my career."A reporter directed a question to Iverson that began with the assertion that many of the fans in attendance were there to see him. He agreed.
The Spectrum Center was speckled with retro NBA jerseys, many of which were worn in homage to Iverson. There were 76ers Iverson jerseys, Nuggets Iverson jerseys and the $100 Big3 replica jersey that displayed Iverson's nickname, "The Answer," on the back. Fans treated him as though he was still in his prime.Iverson's last season in the NBA was in 2010, when he returned to play for the 76ers, the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 1996 and that he led to the NBA Finals five years later. He had a brief stint with Beşiktaş, a Turkish team, the following season before officially retiring in 2013. Iverson always said that when he stepped on a basketball court and knew he wasn't the best player in the world, he didn't want to play any more. That's how he knew when it was time to retire. He said his ego, his pride and his belief in his talent wouldn't allow him to continue playing.
When asked if playing in the Big3 brought back any memories from his NBA career, Iverson brought up the frustrations of that feeling, of knowing that he isn't the best player in the world.Iverson has come to grips with that fact of NBA Live Mobile 18 Coins, though. He plays in the Big3 to give back to the fans and so that his youngest three children, who were too young to appreciate his NBA career at the time, can see their father on the court."Some of these guys (are) still trying to make it back into the NBA and that's not a goal of mine," Iverson said. "I already accomplished that goal and I want to move on to bigger and better things in life and I was blessed to be able to play for 14 years and this thing right here is just for me to have fun and enjoy my fans, all of them."
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