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kriD
02-27-2006, 08:47 AM
Sixer and above

At 6-foot, Philly's Allen Iverson might be the best little man in NBA history

By DWAIN PRICE
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

DALLAS -- As small players go, they probably don't get any better than Allen Iverson.

At 6-foot and a mere 165 pounds, Iverson might be the best player to ever play in the NBA who stands 6-1 or shorter. His competitive drive, huge heart and ability to play with injuries certainly can't be questioned.

Nor can his uncanny ability to take anyone off the dribble at any time.

"Allen Iverson is a warrior," Memphis Grizzlies assistant coach Lionel Hollins said. "Physically and mentally, there hasn't been a guy as tough in the league."

Hollins played 10 seasons as a guard (1975-85) in the NBA and helped the Portland Trail Blazers win the 1977 championship. During his career, which included three trips to the NBA Finals, he rarely saw a small player with the explosiveness that Iverson possesses.

"We didn't have a whole lot of little guys when I played, but Nate Archibald is a guy that jumps out at me and was a tough guy to play against every night," Hollins said.

"But Iverson brings it every night. He goes to the basket fearlessly, he gets knocked on his butt, he gets hammered, and he gets right back up and he goes and shoots free throws."

Isiah Thomas, Bob Cousy, Kevin Johnson, Calvin Murphy, John Stockton, Tim Hardaway, Mark Price and Gail Goodrich were other players 6-1 or shorter who had major impacts on the league. But Iverson -- whose Philadelphia 76ers face the Mavericks at 7:30 tonight at American Airlines Center -- arguably heads the list.

Mavs developmental coach Brad Davis, who retired in 1992 after a 15-year career, said Iverson compares favorably to Thomas, who led the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and '90.

"Isiah could take a pounding, drive it in there and get banged up -- just like AI does -- and still come back. And the next play down, if he's got an opening, he's going to go in there again," Davis said. "Those guys are just so mentally tough that they may be hurting a little bit, but they're going to come out and play the next day.

"That's the way Isiah was, and that's the way Allen Iverson is."

Now in his 10th season, Iverson is averaging 27.9 points, 6.1 assists and 2.36 steals per game for his career. The next highest-scoring little man is Thomas, who finished his 13-year career averaging 19.2 points per game.

However, being the game's best little man is not a title that impresses Iverson. He'd much rather pass those superficial honors along to someone else.

"I want to win a ring, and I want to have an opportunity to get back to the Finals," said Iverson, who led the Sixers to the Finals in 2001. "But I've just got to take it one day at a time and realize and understand that it can happen, and I always believe that.

"Once I stop believing that the goal can be accomplished, there's no need in me even dressing up every night."

Mavs point guard Darrell Armstrong, who helped shut down Toronto's Mike James late during Saturday's 115-113 overtime victory over the Raptors, acknowledged that Iverson presents the biggest challenge of perhaps any point guard in the league.

"He's a guy you know is going to bring a lot of energy to the game, who can score in traffic and who can score from the outside," Armstrong said. "What a challenge for the point guards against AI, and I look forward to it."

James said Iverson's fearlessness gives him an edge unmatched by anyone in the league.

"I think one of the best attributes of AI's game is even at his size, he plays big and he has a big heart, and that's the one thing you can't take away from him is his passion," James said. "And because of that passion he has a desire to win and he'll do whatever it takes to win, including putting his whole team on his back.

"That just shows his character. You can't do anything but tip your hat to a player that plays with that much heart and that much aggressiveness for 48 minutes every single night."

Despite Iverson's ability, the Sixers entertained the idea of trading him before last Thursday's trade deadline. The talks didn't faze Iverson, who is second in the league in scoring (33.1) and first in minutes played (43.3).

"I've been through this so many times at the trade deadline," Iverson said. "I've been through it so much to where I just try to let it blow over and just hope that it does -- just blow over -- so I can concentrate on what I have to do for my squad."

Iverson said it wouldn't feel right if he got traded and went on to win an NBA title with another franchise as a forgotten former superstar.

"I don't want to be in my 10th or 11th or 15th year and leave and try to be somebody's sixth man off the bench and just win a championship, because it wouldn't mean the same if I would have won one as a Sixer," he said. "I just want to finish my career as a Sixer and win a championship as a Sixer.

"It'll mean so much to win it in Philadelphia, and that's all I care about. I'm loyal to the organization and I'm pretty sure that the organization is loyal to me."

MavKikiNYC
02-27-2006, 09:02 AM
Why the need for another "Best-Little-Player-in-NBA-History" article?

Yawn.

Great performer. NOT a great PG. Overall, NOT a winner.

End of story.

Next!

Arne
02-27-2006, 09:19 AM
Give Iverson a Shaq in his prime and he'll win at least as many titles as Kobe.

Murphy3
02-27-2006, 11:28 AM
Shaq would never touch the ball... AI would have turned Shaq into Oliver Miller.

Male30Dan
02-27-2006, 12:27 PM
Shaq would never touch the ball... AI would have turned Shaq into Oliver Miller.

Aren't you comparing a "bitch" to a "hoe" in terms of who is more of a ball hog between AI and Kobe?

I don't think Shaq receives it any less than he did while playing with the single BIGGEST ball hog in the NBA.

Arne
02-27-2006, 12:33 PM
Aren't you comparing a "bitch" to a "hoe" in terms of who is more of a ball hog between AI and Kobe?

I don't think Shaq receives it any less than he did while playing with the single BIGGEST ball hog in the NBA.
Exactly.

spreedom
02-27-2006, 01:54 PM
Stockton is the best little big man in NBA history, if you ask me...

EricaLubarsky
02-28-2006, 12:53 PM
Reports out of philadelphia are saying that AI will not be invited to play for the US olympic team

he is about to recieve a letter thanking him for his interest. As one of the sources stated: "We tried to make the letters as appreciative and professional as possible. The idea was to try and bring people down softly."

sixeightmkw
02-28-2006, 02:42 PM
Yeah, I would like to actaully do good over in the olympics. Ever since Iverson got on the team they have sucked.

Thespiralgoeson
03-01-2006, 12:33 AM
Iverson is without question the greatest player under 6 ft to ever play in the NBA. Grittiest competitor I've ever seen, and definitely one of the all-time greats.

orangedays
03-01-2006, 12:45 AM
Best commercials too.