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Allen Iverson gives emotional goodbye at retirement announcement

In a speech that included thanks for coaches, trainers and family members, Allen Iverson offered up a special moment when asked which teammate had a lasting effect on him.

"Aaron McKie," Iverson repeated over and over before succumbing to tears. "He was a teammate but it was on another level."

The 2001 MVP said that he "made a million mistakes" during the course of his basketball career, but "without Aaron McKie it might have been two million."

Few players have had the impact on the players of today that Iverson did — everyone wanted his look, everyone wanted to emulate his fearless style. His retirement announcement, which was broadcast on Comcast SportsNet Philly, was representative of that admiration as the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center hung on the former MVP's every word.

“I’m formally announcing my retirement from basketball,” Iverson said. “You know, I thought one this day came it would be basically a tragic day. I never imagined the day coming, but I knew it would come. I feel proud and happy to say that I’m happy with my decision and I feel great.

[Watch: Allen Iverson ends his career with no regrets]

“It’s just a hard life to live. It’s a great one, I wouldn’t trade it  for nothing. I have no regrets on anything. People ask me all the time, ‘Do I have any regrets?’ I don’t have any. If I could back and do it  all over, would I change anything? No. Obviously if I could go back and  change anything I would be a perfect man. And I know there’s no perfect man and there’s no perfect basketball player. So no, I wouldn’t change  anything. My career was up and down at times. I made a lot of mistakes, a lot of things I’m not proud of. But it’s only from other people to learn from.

Iverson was reflective and grateful, thanking Michael Jordan and Larry Brown for being key parts of his professional career. He also talked about Georgetown.

“I always believed in myself, my mom always told me I could be  anything that I wanted to be,” Iverson said. “I truly actually believed  it. I fought. I went through a whole lot, trying to get to this point right here. [Former Georgetown] Coach [John] Thompson gave me an opportunity when nobody in the world would and believed in me. Basically, saved my life and helped my dream come true.”

He showed off his sense of humor.

[Yahoo Fantasy Basketball: Manage your team with free live scoring, stats and advice]

“You used to think the suspect was the guy with the corn rows, now you see the police officers with the corn rows,” he said.

We’ve known this was coming for a while — frankly a lot of his fans seemed to know the end was there before Iverson himself did.

That shouldn’t, however, alter our opinion of a future first-ballot  Hall of Famer — an 11-time All-Star who averaged 26.7 points, 6.2  assists and 2.2 steals a game in his 13-year career. His game had a lot  of substance but you can’t think of Iverson without the style — the tattoos (before everybody had them), the cornrows, his fearless attacking style and ability to finish over guys a foot taller than him. That style made him one of the most entertaining players of his generation. He led the charge to bring a hip-hop culture to the game and young African-Americans in particular related to him in a way they did not with other stars.

He changed the game. He should be celebrated and will be tonight in Philadelphia as the Sixers tip off their season.

-- Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk

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