‘This is a moment I'll never forget': Iverson soaks in sculpture ceremony

‘This is a moment I'll never forget': Iverson soaks in sculpture ceremony  originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

CAMDEN, N.J. — Even before glimpsing his sculpture, the emotions hit Allen Iverson.

“This is such an honor, man,” Iverson said Friday at the Sixers’ training complex. “And it (doesn’t) even seem real. I don’t get nervous too much, but just seeing so many people in here that I love … I want to say all the right things and just let y’all know how much I appreciate y’all.

“I promised myself I wasn’t going to (cry), but thanks to everybody for coming out. Thanks to everybody for playing a part in this, for making this dream come true.”

A few minutes later, he stepped outside and saw the sculpture created by Chad Fisher. No. 3 is now the 10th Sixers great on the franchise’s Legends Walk.

Iverson enjoyed Fisher’s work.

“Loved it,” he said. “I loved it. It’s so crazy leading up to it. You’re just nervous because you’re hoping that it looks like you.

“Man, I was just telling him, ‘You did a great job, man.’ This is a moment I’ll never forget. I’ll cherish this moment for the rest of my life.”

Iverson had ample love and support around him Friday. His mother, Ann Iverson, was by his side. One of the day’s many photos featured Iverson between former Sixers president Pat Croce and former Sixers coach Larry Brown. Old teammates like Eric Snow, Aaron McKie, Larry Hughes and Matt Geiger surrounded Iverson.

Allen Iverson sculpture ceremony
Allen Iverson sculpture ceremony

Snow, who’s stayed close with Iverson, highlighted the Hall of Fame guard’s “heart.”

“Even to this day, I’m not always awake when he calls me, but I will return the call the next day,” Snow said with a chuckle. “Our hours are a little different …. but he still keeps in touch. My kids love it when he calls. They want me to put him on speakerphone. My two young boys who’ve never seen him play, they just want to hear his voice.

“But that’s the amazing part about him. Everywhere I’ve gone in my life — no matter where I’ve lived, no matter where I’ve traveled — people know, recognize and love who Allen Iverson is.”

Current Sixers head coach Nick Nurse described Iverson’s relentless, fearless style as an enduring legacy.

“Just your heart, you saw it every night out there,” Nurse said. “I think that it’s left — and will leave forever — a foundation of what this city stands for and how guys need to play the game. You go out there to play, put that jersey on, s--- goes by fast. You’ve got to expect that, you’ve got to enjoy that, and you’ve got to give everything you've got because it’s all gone just like that when you’re a player.

“If anybody maxed out that thought playing this game, it was you. So thank you for that. And I tell you what, I’m going to fight my ass off to get this team back to where you took ‘em a long time ago.”

Iverson said he hopes anyone passing by the sculpture is reminded of “Just playing every game like it’s your last. That was always my motto.

“Regardless of the circumstances, if I’m hurt or whatever, if I’m on the court, there was no reason not for me to play like that game like it’s my last. It’s not fair to myself, it’s not fair to God for giving me the talent. And I always felt like, ‘I’m going to play harder than anybody out here.’ … I was going to play harder than anybody, night in and night out.”