In 2001 The Philadelphia 76ers were one of the best teams in the league. Allen Iverson was winning the All-Star MVP and regular season MVP awards, and leading the team through the playoffs. They would eventually get to the Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. It was a great time to be a Sixers fan.
Allen Iverson was as dominant as anyone could be. He led the league in scoring and steals. He had five assists and four rebounds a game. He was hard to stop, almost impossible. That year, he became the greatest athlete, in my mind, in Philadelphia sports history.
What happened that year started my daughter on her love for Philly sports.
Each game, when she would see me put my Sixers jersey on, she would yell that it was time for her Sixers and run to her room to put her Iverson jersey on. My wife hated it. Even on nights when she was supposed to be in bed, she would say she had to watch the Sixers. At 3 ½ years old, it’s what she knew. When the Sixers were on, you got your jersey on, got to the couch and watched until the end. She looked for Iverson, all of the time. He was wearing the same shirt that she had. Simple times.
Throughout the playoffs, we repeated this ritual with every game. We’d get dressed and turn on the game. My wife would get mad, but we’d watch the game. At the end of game five against the Lakers, when they finally won the title, she didn’t understand that celebration. When I explained that it was over and that the Sixers wouldn’t be playing any more until next year she only had one question.
“Iverson?” she asked.
“Yes, he’ll be back next year.”
With that she smiled and walked away.
That spring started our sports life together. She was born in Florida but she’s only loved Philadelphia sports teams. We’ve been to Flyers games against the Panthers where she would cheer and scream for the Flyers. We’ve been to Phillies games where she sports her jersey. Eagles games are the same. Her closet is littered with Philadelphia sports paraphernalia. When the Eagles won the Super Bowl, where was my daughter? In Philly with her best friend. Partying. When we spent the week in Philly for the parade, she was by my side the whole time. Even then, she called work and postponed her flight so we could make the parade.
“I can find another job dad. I can never see the first Eagles Super Bowl Parade, again.”
How do you argue with that?
It’s been twenty years of Philly sports for her and I. She’s never wavered. She’s never changed her teams. She knows the players, knows the games, knows the rules. She’s a true fan. Although her one girly thing is that she swears she will eventually marry Aaron Nola. I guess that’s not all that bad. We still talk about sports. We still talk about our teams during the season. She still reads anything I write about on Philly Sports Network and lets me know her thoughts, even when they’re not what she agrees with. She’ll never change.
In my eyes, she’s always three years old, wearing her black Iverson jersey and letting my wife know it was time for “my Sixers.” No matter what team we’re watching or what season it is, she’s always that little girl that didn’t want anything more than to watch her team with her dad.
So, when I say that Allen Iverson is the greatest athlete to ever play in the city of Philadelphia, it’s not his points or scoring titles or any of that. It’s because Iverson helped start something amazing with my daughter that continues to this day.
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