Oct 29, 2013, 9:58 AM EDT
Allen Iverson is one of the most influential players on the current generation of NBA players. Yes, Jordan gets mentioned, and younger players talk about Kobe Bryant but Iverson’s fearless style on and off the court has a lot of admirers.
Put LeBron James in that group.
Talking about Iverson’s official retirement Wednesday when the Sixers play Miami, LeBron heaped praise on Iverson Monday, as reported by Tom Haberstroh at ESPN’s Heat Index.
“Pound-for-pound, probably the greatest player who ever played,” James said of Iverson, who will retire in a Sixers pregame ceremony ahead of Wednesday’s home opener against the defending champion Heat.
LeBron did the same thing in a recent ESPN the Magazine interview.
“I watch Jordan more than anybody for sure,” James said in ESPN The Magazine’s NBA Preview Issue. “But I’ll watch tapes of A.I., too. I don’t take anything from A.I.. Well, I do — his will. They say he was 6 feet, but A.I. was like 5-10½. Do we even want to say 160? 170 [pounds]? Do we even want to give him that much weight? And he played like a 6-8 2-guard. He was one of the greatest finishers we’ve ever seen. You could never question his heart. Ever. He gave it his all. A.I. was like my second-favorite player growing up, after MJ.”
Throw Dwyane Wade in the category of big Iverson fans, too.
“One of my favorite players obviously of all time. Michael Jordan, Kobe [Bryant], T-Mac [Tracy McGrady] and A.I.,” Wade said. “Those were the ones that I looked up to coming up. I take pride in wearing No. 3 because A.I. wore No. 3.”
Iverson’s carreer ended awkwardly, but we should look back on the early days, because LeBron is right — Iverson was as entertaining a player as the league has seen and got as much out of his talent as anyone.