#AI3Forever: A Look Back
Posted: March 2, 2014
Nearly 18 years ago, Philadelphia was introduced to Allen Iverson, a scrawny, six-foot-nothing guard from Hampton, Virginia. His gritty demeanor and dogged determination won over the city’s fans, and his flash and penchant for the spectacular garnered worldwide acclaim. Over his 14-year NBA career, he earned 11 consecutive All-Star appearances from 2000-2010, four scoring titles, and one Most Valuable Player award, leading the Sixers to their first Finals appearance in 18 seasons in 2001. Saturday, Iverson received an honor that exceeds all of those: his number three jersey was forever retired by the franchise with which he began and ended his storied career.
Let’s take a look back at the night through the lens of social media:
Fans began to line up outside Wells Fargo Center hours before doors were scheduled to open, braving the elements and patiently waiting for their chance to witness history.
Inside the arena, Wells Fargo Center had undergone a makeover, with banners, signs, merchandise, and more bearing his likeness and #3 present throughout the building.
Outside, the line grew longer…
An hour before tip off, fans were let into the building. The atmosphere was electric, and the concourse buzzed with activity.
The man of the hour arrived…
With the game about to begin, everyone was in the Iverson spirit!
We’ll be rocking #3 for our dunk show during the third quarter break of tonight’s game! #AI3Forever!— Sixers Flight Squad (@FlightSquad76) March 1, 2014
Legendary center and key member of the 2000-01 Eastern Conference Champion Sixers Dikembe Mutombo rang the bell to signal the start of the game.
The game began, and one-by-one the former Sixers in attendance are honored.
Pat Croce enters the lower seating area and is met with raucous applause and high fives! #AI3Forever— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) March 2, 2014
SPOOOOOOOOOON! Clarence Weatherspoon in the house! #AI3Forever— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) March 2, 2014
Moses Malone is shown on the big board, and the crowd goes bananas! Then they cut to this guy and they explode...— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) March 2, 2014
We reached halftime, and a two-minute timer was put up on the big screen.
T-minus two minutes until #AI3Forever!— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) March 2, 2014
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Lights off! #AI3Forever— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) March 2, 2014
The arena went dark, and Iverson’s voice emanates from the PA system while highlights from throughout his career play…
So. Many. Goosebumps. #AI3Forever— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) March 2, 2014
PA announcer Matt Cord introduced Iverson, who entered the arena to raucous applause and MVP chants.
"MVP… MVP… MVP" #AI3Forever— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) March 2, 2014
Words were shared.
Larry Brown (via video): "God put me here to coach you." #AI3Forever— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) March 2, 2014
Iverson took the mic.
Allen Iverson raises his hand to his ear and the crowd greets him with the loudest applause of the night! #AI3Forever— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) March 2, 2014
.@alleniverson: "I love ya'll for believing in me, and for caring about me as a man. I love Philly to death. Best place in the world!"— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) March 2, 2014
And then the moment we’d all been waiting for…
The game resumed and Iverson addressed reporters in the press conference area.
Iverson posed with one of a number of gifts from the Sixers’ ownership group, a bass fishing boat called The Answer.
After the game, new season ticket holders and those who have renewed their season tickets for next season were given a unique opportunity to have their picture taken with Allen Iverson’s #3 banner.
New and renewed season ticket holders pose with the #3 banner postgame: pic.twitter.com/AtJmhzaOzf— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) March 2, 2014
And even visiting point guard John Wall thought that was pretty cool…
U know u run a big time fan promo when all star pg jwall asks 2 hop sth line and get a photo #$cantbuyexpsmatter pic.twitter.com/jYzWaQuUpw— Scott O'Neil (@ScottONeil) March 2, 2014
Throughout the night, former players took to social media to congratulate Iverson on his remarkable career.
Pound for pound!! Congrats homie. What a pleasure to complete against u and also become a friend in… http://t.co/R5iusBFT5d— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 2, 2014
Congrats to my brother Allen Iverson! What a great night to be honored. pic.twitter.com/3sjUxDxbDv— Theo Ratliff (@shotblocker42) March 2, 2014
Allen Iverson. Love that dude.— Steve Nash (@SteveNash) March 2, 2014
Congrats to ALLEN IVERSON on getting his number retired it's about time next stop for you #HALLOFFAME You are the greatest lil bro— SHAQ (@SHAQ) March 2, 2014
The answer!!!— Marco Belinelli (@marcobelinelli) March 2, 2014
greatest ever outta VA. #BubbaChuck— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) March 2, 2014