WATCH: When a Rookie Allen Iverson Embarrassed Michael Jordan With a Dirty Crossover

Published 03/12/2021, 11:03 AM EST
SHANGHAI, CHINA – NOVEMBER 10: American former basketball player Allen Iverson receives interview during rehearsal for 2018 Double 11 Global Shopping Festival on November 10, 2018 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images)


Allen Iverson enjoyed a Hall of Fame career because he feared no one right from his rookie season. Iverson came into the league in 1996 as a highly heralded first overall draft pick, and the Georgetown alum straight-up dazzled the association with his crossovers. Even the great Michael Jordan fell victim to the talented point guard. 

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Imagine a rookie guard coming up against a veteran Michael Jordan and outplaying him in front of thousands of fans. That’s exactly what happened on March 12, 1997, at the then CoreStates Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Allen Iverson made Michael Jordan look miserable with a crossover 24 years ago today

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Allen Iverson recorded one of the best rookie debuts in history. The Virginia native went off for 30 points and shot 63.2% from the field against the Milwaukee Bucks. This had everyone thrilled and people knew that the six-foot point guard is on his way to something special. 

Iverson and the Sixers played the Chicago Bulls the very next game but AI only scored only 15 points against MJ. A month and a half later, he bettered his performance against the same Bulls team by going off for 32 points in 50.0% three-point shooting. 

It was only during the Sixers’ third regular-season game against the Bulls when Jordan felt the complete force of a blazing Iverson. The rookie torched Chicago by scoring 37 points in 15-23 shooting, while MJ responded with 23 points. 

However, the most memorable moment from the game is Iverson’s incredible crossover against a tough defensive player like Michael Jordan. On this day 24 years ago, AI faked MJ and went left like a bolt of lightning. 

Jordan found Iverson’s quickness to be “unbelievable” and was unable to reach out for it due to Iverson’s size. Nevertheless, it is one of the iconic moments from Iverson’s rookie season.

AI also holds a priceless victory over MJ 

NBA fans require no introduction as to how dominant Michael Jordan was. The man is known for outsourcing and outplaying every one of his opponents, but Allen Iverson stands out as an exception. 

Iverson entered the league only in 1997, but he’s enjoyed quite a few duels with the six-time NBA champion. Here’s a mind-blowing stat that involves Jordan and Iverson (H/T Crazy Stats). 

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“During his tenure with the Bulls, Michael Jordan faced 983 opponents. He outscored 982 of them. The only player who outscored him is Allen Iverson (Iverson – 27.1, Jordan – 24.0).”

031258.SP.0806.lakers12.WS –– Lakers Kobe Bryant and 76ers Allen Iverson have a few words with each other at the end of the fourth quarter of the NBA Final game between the Lakers and the 76ers, Friday, June 8, 2001 at the Staples Center. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

This is indeed an achievement one can boast about all day. Holding a personal scoring record against MJ is not a feat everyone can talk about, but that’s why Allen Iverson will always remain as one of the most special talents to play in the NBA.

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Arjun Athreya

1927 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.

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