His place was taken by Allen Iverson in the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. His induction speech, much like his game, was from the heart. And, much like his profession, it was significant on crossover appeal.
Iverson was emotional from the instant he took the podium, first speaking to a roaring crowd inside the auditorium. Bunches of Sixers fans made the trek to see their man.
“Wow. Guy, I love y’all, too,” he said.
“Trainer Thompson saved me my life,” Iverson said.
Iverson also had kind words for Larry Brown, the coach with whom he had his greatest success (and greatest battle) with the 76ers. Iverson said it was when he began accepting Brown’s “positive criticism” and training which he turned into a superstar.
“That’s when I became an MVP. That is when I became an All Star,” he said. “I learned how much of a great coach he is.”
There was a few light moments, also, especially when he described playing for the first time, against his idol, Michael Jordan.
“For the very first time in my life, a human being did not look real to me,” he said.
That did not prevent Iverson from finally crossing over Jordan in what instantly became an iconic NBA best highlight.
The address also would not have been complete without Iverson giving a shout out to hip hop celebrities Biggie and Tupac,who helped make him a cultural icon. He also had a word of appreciation for Michael Jackson.
The thank you line kept going: Sixers officials, former teammates, media (notably Stephen A. Smith), buffs, Kobe Bryant, and more family.
At the end, he walked off the stage to a chant of “MVP!”