November 08, 2011
Last Sunday, Yahoo! Sports' own Marc Spears reported that Allen Iverson is trying to return to the NBA in any role possible. For a player who struggled to take on a less share of the scoring load with the Grizzlies and Sixers during the 2009-10 season, it was a humbling admission.
Iverson, no matter what he does in the next season or two, will always be remembered as the divisive superstar who led Philadelphia to the NBA Finals in 2001. But at one point he wasn't quite the same kind of lightning rod. As a rookie in the fall of 1996, AI was a very exciting rookie point guard with a lot to prove about his ability to run a team. And while his skills as a pure point guard never fully materialized, he proved a lot in this first game against the Milwaukee Bucks with 30 points and six assists.
Highlights from that game now exist on YouTube, and you can watch them above. The full Iverson repertoire is already present, from lightning-quick drives to deep jumpers to his historically great ability to create an open shot from nothing. It's a joy to watch, even if it's impossible to get back to that time of relative innocence. Yet this video proves that, once upon a time, Iverson was an exciting player who suggested myriad possibilities for what his career would become.