NBA

Allen Iverson deserves Hall pass

Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers stands on the court before the game against the Denver Nuggets on December 7, 2009 at the Wachovia Center=
Allen Iverson was a unique basketball player.
FOX Sports Nick Creegan
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After 14 years of nasty crossovers, a rebellious urban attitude that pissed some off while others cheered, prolific scoring and always entertaining news conferences, Allen "The Answer" Iverson finally hung it up in the city where he starred.

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SEE MY POINT

Who's the best point guard in NBA history? Magic? Isiah? The Big O? Here are our top 10.

Now the real discussion can be started. Hall of Famer? No question about that, but when?

Say what you want about Iverson, but he was one of the best to ever do it and should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer without question. If you don't think so, check the numbers. Better yet, here you go: 26.7 points (sixth all time), 6.2 assists (45th all time) and 2.2 steals (seventh all time) per game.

Not bad, eh?

Well, there are some talking heads that still discredit those numbers as well as his being an 11-time All-Star, NBA MVP and making the All-NBA Team three times. The missing link to some is that Iverson has no rings.

Championships are won on a team effort, not just by one player, as LeBron James would be able to tell you better than anyone else. It's not AI's fault that there were no major pieces added to the puzzle while he was there. The only "Big 3" was right on Iverson's jersey.

Eric Snow? Tyrone Hill? No offense to those guys, but while AI averaged 31.1 points, the next highest scorer was 12.4 the season the Sixers made the Finals. You could call him a ball hog or a shoot-first, setup guy second, but this was his MVP year as well as the only time the 76ers reached the Finals during his time there.

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BEST OF TIMES

Bird, Jordan and Magic are among our top 10 players in NBA history.

With Gary Payton in the Hall — which he definitely deserves to be in — with a similar career stat line to AI (Payton: 16.3 points, 6.7 assists, 1.8 steals per game), why would Iverson not be first-ballot? All you have to do is add about 10 points and a half-steal to Payton for AI's averages to be basically identical.

Payton didn't win a ring until the second-to-last year of his 17-year career, when he was out of his prime and just sticking around coming off the bench for a Heat team that could have won without him. Juwan Howard did the same thing.

If that's all winning a ring means, Michael Jordan could have gone to the Lakers and gotten three more, right?

AI broke the ankles of Jordan, dunked over Marcus Camby, drew the double team so his teammates would get easy looks, stole the ball on countless ... just watch this and refresh your memory:

Maybe it's a personal vendetta against Iverson. Maybe it's the fact he couldn't care less about how the public viewed his cornrows, fitted caps and baggy clothing. Maybe it's the fact he would find a way to put the team on his back during games, but not during practice. Or maybe it's just the fact he's misunderstood.

nba trash talkers

TALKING SMACK

These guys never stopped running...their mouths. Best trash talkers.

After all, how could you ever fully understand a 6-foot guard who would drive the lane and find a way to get the ball in the hoop when it should have been blocked? Score on everyone from Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O'Neal?

Iverson was the first of his kind and changed the game of basketball. So remember his legacy for what it was: Greatness. 

Follow Nick Creegan on Twitter

Tagged: Gary Payton, Heat

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