‘Urban Legend’ – Jamal Crawford Explains Why Allen Iverson Was His Inspiration

Published 05/26/2021, 9:30 AM EDT
BEIJING, CHINA – OCTOBER 25: Former NBA star Allen Iverson attends a news conference on October 25, 2016 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images)


Allen Iverson is one of the biggest legends in NBA history. During his peak, he was absolutely unplayable. Fans often look back at Iverson’s career with great fondness and admiration. Perhaps no moment from Iverson’s career is more memorable than his game-one-winning shot in the NBA Finals against the Lakers. Iverson made the shot and then stepped over Tye Lu to make a statement.

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AI was an inspiration to several of the under-sized guards in the NBA today. One of the players who Iverson inspired was Jamal Crawford.

Jamal Crawford on Allen Iverson

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In an interview with fellow NBA veteran Rex Chapman, Crawford revealed that he had posters and cutouts of Allen Iverson on his wall. Iverson had a direct impact on him and his career. Being an undersized player, the former NBA star was able to do things others just couldn’t. His movement, exhibiting great finesse, is inimitable.

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)
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“To be honest with you, my mom, if she was here, she would tell you, I had 35 pictures of Allen Iverson on my wall. These were cutouts from Slam magazine, hope magazine, whatever it was. I would cut the pictures out and tape them on the wall.

“I feel like out of all the people I watched, he had so much of an effect on me. Because he was one of the first I remember where he would do a move and most of the time you see his crossover, he was making the shot.” 

AI could do things other couldn’t.

Crawford added that Iverson’s movement wasn’t his only tool. Crawford and his colleagues came up during the era of and-ones, where players tried to make difficult shots over fouls in order to get a three or a four-point play. However, the question was always whether that technique could work against the best players in the league.

Iverson brought a street hustle to the league that hadn’t been seen before him.

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“He wasn’t just doing the movement. Because we come up in the and-one era where the guys have handles. Can that translate from this to that, can you really pull that stuff off against the best players in the world. And Iverson brought a street, kind of neighborhood feel with it…Iverson was just like a whole different thing.

“To see somebody that small, that creative, and his left to right crossover was killing everybody. And then when he pulled off against MJ, now it’s like urban legend.”

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Allen Iverson was a historic player, winning an MVP title and multiple All-Star nominations. He was even able to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to an NBA Finals in 2001.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1313 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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