As of today, the Philadelphia 76ers have a grand total of seven numbers retired in franchise history. They include five Hall of Famers (Hal Greer’s 15, Wilt Chamberlain’s 13, Billy Cunningham’s 32, Julius Erving’s 6 and Charles Barkley’s 34), a guy who should be in the Hall of Fame (Maurice Cheeks’ 10) and the beloved defensive stalwart on the organization’s last team to hold the Larry O’Brien Trophy (Bobby Jones’ 24).
Tomorrow night, that total will reach eight, as the Sixers will formally retire Allen Iverson’s No. 3 jersey, as I mentioned yesterday.
Thinking back on my nearly 30 years on this planet, I can honestly say no single athlete in my lifetime has made me show up to a sporting event more than Allen Iverson. Sure, I’ve been to more baseball games over the years and probably just as many hockey and football ones. And sure, there have been lots of players I’ve enjoyed watching, some I’ve made it a point to see play in person.
But no one influenced me to actually attend a game live specifically for his singular talents more than Allen Iverson. Love him or hate him, witnessing him in action live and in person was nothing short of exhilarating. His stupid speed and quickness. His remarkable resiliency. His fearlessness. His unadulterated hustle. Even his diminutive size compared to his contemporaries. All of it was mesmerizing.
Every time he touched the ball, there was an electricity few others can conjure. And it’s why Allen Iverson brought me and droves of other fans both in Philadelphia and across the nation to the arenas.
Now, he’ll be there forever, reaching the rafters with fellow Sixers greats. And you’re damn right I’ll be there, just as I have been so many times before.