Allen Iverson is being inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame today. The Answer, as he was called, spent his formative years as a Philadelphia 76er terrorizing the Eastern Conference with one of the greatest crossovers the world has every seen, but when Philly and Iverson had a falling out, then Nuggets VP of Basketball operations Mark Warkentein didn’t hesitate to bring the star guard to the Mile High City to play for the Denver Nuggets.
While Iverson will certainly be remembered most for his time in Philly, and while he was entering the twilight of his career by the time he arrived in Denver that doesn’t mean he didn’t have some memorable moments while wear a Nuggets uniform. In fact, he had several memorable games, here’s some of our favorites.
The No Look Shot
This one isn’t a game, just one of the craziest shots there’s ever been. Iverson appeared to be looking to make a behind the back pass to Anthony Carter but when he heard the whistle for a foul call he changed his mind mid-air and threw up a shot which found the bottom of the basket.
Iverson gives Nuggets hope in the playoffs
AI got off to a slow start in his first playoff game as a Nugget but would close strong. He would total 31 points to go along with Carmelo Anthony’s 30 to lead Denver on an upset of the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio in game 1 of the first round. Unfortunately for Denver fans, the Spurs would win the next four to complete a gentlemen’s sweep. For me that playoff loss stung more in the moment than any of the others in the George Karl era and it’s likely because that game 1 victory gave just a glimmer of hope that the Nuggets had progressed to the next level of contention.
AI has arrived in Denver
Any questions Nuggets fans may have had about whether or not Iverson had anything left in the tank when he was traded to Denver were answered on just his third game with the team. Playing against the Seattle Supersonics, The Answer exploded for a monster double double with 44 points and 10 assists.
Going shot for shot with Dirk
In December of the 2007-2008 season Iverson put together a pair of games that were as good as any by a Nuggets player. In the second game of a back to back the Nuggets found themselves matched up against a talented Dallas Mavericks team whose best player, Dirk Nowitzki, was in full scoring mode. Dirk would put up 30 on Denver, but AI was up to the task of going toe to toe while pouring in 35 points of his own to go along with 12 assists and a Nuggets victory.
The 51 point game
By far for me the most memorable game Iverson played in a Nuggets uniform was the game directly prior to the contest that saw him out duel Dirk. The first half of the aforementioned back to back was in Denver against the hated Los Angeles Lakers. Iverson had one of those games where he could get anywhere he wanted on the court and simply could not miss. He would tally 51 points total on the night to go along with eight assists and Sasha Vujacic would never recover. The only downer was Denver would actually spoil the performance and end up dropping the game to the Lakers.
So yes, for most when they think of Iverson they will likely think of him crossing up Michael Jordan, or absolutely destroying Marcus Camby (and we all know what Tyronn Lue will remember), but I’ll always point out that AI had some pretty awesome games in Denver as well. In fact, while AI would later play for the Memphis Grizzlies, Detroit Pistons and then return to the 76ers, his tenure in Denver was really the last hurrah of his career before his skills diminished to the point he could no longer start for an NBA team (and refused to come off the bench). Perhaps most importantly, Iverson put the Nuggets back on the map. His star power and performances like the ones we’ve highlighted here brought a new generation of Nuggets fans from all corners of the globe, many of whom still follow the team today.