76ers Legend’s “Addictive” Practices Opened Gateways for Shaquille O’Neal and Other NBA Stars: “I Took A** Whooping”

Published 02/22/2024, 6:00 AM EST

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Over the last two decades, we have witnessed so many cultural changes in the basketball world. And if there is a player who has contributed for the majority of the impact, it is Allen Iverson. The Philadelphia 76ers icon appeared in the recent episode of ‘The Big Podcast with Shaq‘, where Shaquille O’Neal described Iverson’s impact on the league and how it influenced other players. Furthermore, O’Neal even stated how the 11x All-Star’s one particular addiction opened a wave of new opportunities for him and the rest of the NBA family.

NBA’s history with tattoos is not uncommon to the fans and neither is Iverson’s role in it. Speaking of the legend’s first tattoo and how the practice of body art slowly started to get accepted by the fans and the administration, O’Neal shared his opinion on the matter. He even shared how he got tattooed after watching Iverson. I’m tatted because of you. After he did it and people just start you know accepting it everything he did,” shared O’Neal.

Iverson revealed his first tattoo to be of a bulldog during his playing days at Georgetown. And then, as Shaq put it, AI went crazy. “When I got to the NBA, it got addictive,” Iverson disclosed. The journey wasn’t easy for him, though. He was highly criticized by people for his tattoos. I took a** whooping for it,” Iverson said about his body art.


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The Los Angeles Lakers legend encouraged him as he said, “You actually taught me how to be myself too!” The 2001 MVP is widely credited for reshaping the league’s cultural landscape.

The cultural impact of Allen Iverson 


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AI’s distinctive cornrows and tattoos challenged traditional norms, compelling the NBA to confront and eventually embrace hip-hop culture. In an era where conformity prevailed, Iverson’s unapologetic self-expression sparked a shift, paving the way for players to express their individuality. 

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Not only with tattoos, Iverson was also one of the NBA players who brought the culture of wearing jewelry on posters for the first time. In “Who’s Afraid of Allen Iverson” (SLAM 18, June ’97), Iverson was seen wearing a neckpiece. A first for an NBA player who wore jewelry on a cover. O’Neal was highly inspired by Iverson and even wanted to wear jewelry for his cover photos.


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Dennis Rodman is the first name that pops up when talking about NBA players with tattoos. From lawsuits to outcasts, the NBA has had a history with players flaunting their tattoos. However, Iverson changed the entire scene. He is one of the players who has always worn his true self and was admired by his fans for the same. What are your thoughts on this story? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by:

Pritha Debroy


One take at a time

Pritha is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. After reporting on the luxurious lifestyle of celebrities for a year, she used that experience to cover the glamor side of the basketball world. She has expertly covered Larsa Pippen and Marcus Jordan's complicated love story and the lavish vacations of NBA superstars, among other off-court scoops.
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Edited by:

Pragya Vashisth