The Sixers honored 11-time All-Star guard Allen Iverson by retiring his No. 3 jersey during a ceremony at halftime of a game against the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday.
"You have to show me the fool that says dreams don't come true," Iverson said. "Because they do. I love you, Philadelphia. I love y'all for accepting me and letting me be me. Letting me make my mistakes, letting me be human, let me learn from them. Just embracing me and making this my home forever."
Wearing a black jacket, black pants, black glasses, a black hat and gold chains, Iverson addressed the crowd at center court in front of a line of his old jerseys. He was welcomed by the Philadelphia crowd with "M-V-P" chants.
"And now it's time to party," Iverson said, concluding his speech.
The ceremony culminated with a red banner bearing Iverson's name, the Sixers name and logo and the No. 3 in white being raised to the rafters. Tina Turner's "Simply The Best" played as the banner proceeded upwards.
The Associated Press reports that the Sixers went all out for the ceremony.
The Sixers may as well have turned the arena into an AI museum. Four banners greeted fans at the main concourse entrance, and photos of him were plastered all around the arena. The merchandise stands sold Iverson jerseys for $130, and lower level tickets were going for as much for $1,280 on Stubhub about an hour before the 7:30 p.m. tipoff.
The Sixers wore special ''Iverson Forever'' patches on their jerseys and Iverson's 3 on their pre-game warmup shirts.
''It's a great example of how this city responds to somebody that they clearly think the world of and brought such exciting times to the city of Philadelphia,'' Sixers coach Brett Brown said.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver was in attendance for the ceremony.
''Allen was a special player,'' Silver said, according to the AP. ''The great things he did for the league far outweigh the occasional headache. I always thought even at the time of Allen Iverson's prominence in the league, he was representative of his generation.''
The Sixers announced back in November that Iverson would have his jersey retired. The honor was only a matter of time, as he served as the face of the franchise that he carried to the 2001 Finals. Philadelphia selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 1996 draft and he spent the first 10-plus years of his career in the City of Brotherly Love. After stops with the Nuggets, Pistons and Grizzlies, Iverson then took a brief homecoming victory lap with the Sixers in 2009-10. The Sixers have previously honored Iverson with his own bobblehead night and they played host in October when Iverson formally announced his retirement from basketball.
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“You know, I thought once this day came it would be basically a tragic day,” Iverson said at his retirement press conference. “I promise you it is a happy day for me. I really thought this day would be a tough day for me, but it’s a happy day. … I gave everything I had to basketball and the passion is still there, the desire to play is just not. I just feel good that I’m happy with the decision I’m making. It was a great ride.”
Regarded by some as the best pound-for-pound scorer in league history, the 6-foot, 165-pound Iverson is tied with Wilt Chamberlain for the highest scoring average in Sixers franchise history. He also ranks second in minutes played, second in points, second in steals and third in assists on Philadelphia’s all-time lists. During his 14-year NBA career, "The Answer" won four scoring titles, was selected to seven All-NBA teams, was named 1997 Rookie of the Year and 2001 MVP.
“I’m going to always be a Sixer until I die,” Iverson told reporters in October.
Here's a look at the red, white and blue "Allen Iverson: Sixer Forever" jersey patches via the team's Twitter account.
Iverson, who recently told former coach Larry Brown's college team that he considered himself the best player ever, was presented with a boxing style championship belt bearing his likeness and the inscription, "pound for pound, one of the greatest ever."
ESPN.com reported last fall that Heat forward LeBron James declared that Iverson was, “pound-for-pound, probably the greatest player who ever played.” Here's a closer look at Iverson's new "pound for pound" belt.
Iverson has said that he planned to spend his retirement fishing, so the Sixes presented Iverson with a fishing boat bearing the name, "The Answer."
One Sixers fan co-opted Iverson's infamous "We talkin' 'bout practice" rant for a sign he brought to the arena on Saturday night.
Iverson becomes the eighth player in Sixers franchise history to have his jersey retired, joining: Charles Barkley (No. 34), Wilt Chamberlain (No. 13), Maurice Cheeks (No. 10), Billy Cunningham (No. 32), Julius Erving (No. 6), Hal Greer (No. 15) and Bobby Jones (No. 24).Video via YouTube user clay81