Russell or Chamberlain, Magic or Bird, Jordan or LeBron, 1996 Bulls or 2016 Warriors: these are all standard pieces of the eternal basketball puzzle. Everyone strives to assemble it in their own way, using statistics, personal preferences, historical references and all sorts of comparisons.
In all these examples, there is a zero point of the report – a comparison with someone. When it comes to Allen Iverson and his cultural impact on the development of the NBA, it’s hard to find an equivalent contender.
Yes, Byrd and the Magic were clear proof of the commercial potential of the league, but in contrasting two stylistically different players, the league also made a huge contribution to David Stern.
Jordan took the NBA to the global level and showed how influential the figure of an athlete can be, but his image had nothing to do with the black community in America: he dressed in expensive suits, drove a Ferrari, smoked Monte Cristo cigars, and his the inner circle for the most part consisted of qualified lawyers and financial advisers. Jordan has always been an idol and a brilliant success story, but not a story about how “his boyfriend climbed out of rags to riches.”
It is surprising that Iverson became such a character, idolizing Jordan in all his manifestations.
In fact, he hardly had a choice. An incomplete family, a dubious environment, growing up in the ghetto, and imprisonment quite early formed two main life criteria for Iverson: the need to earn money to support himself and loved ones, as well as loyalty to his roots. Iverson did not neglect the latter, even when his bank account allowed him to provide not only for three subsequent generations, but also to buy the bloodline of the ruler of some Zamunda.
Iverson conveyed the values of black culture through behavior, clothing and jewelry, but his hairstyle was the most authentic attribute.
When it comes to Iverson, the first thing people start talking about is the jewelry and the notorious elastic sleeve that the player wore during matches.
“I had one as a child. I timidly hoped that by wearing it I would play like Iverson, ”Stef Curry recalled in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
With jewelry, Timberland boots and baggy clothes, it’s even easier. When asked by GQ journalists about whether Iverson managed to outdo anyone with his style, the trendsetters received a rather prosaic answer.
“No, man. What a style? We didn’t have money. All my clothes were of shitty quality, and to be honest, I didn’t even think about it. All I cared about was my game and the shoes I wore to the court. I was ready to tear my eyes out for the Jordan 11 Concord, but at the same time I could carry the same jeans for weeks.