Allen Iverson is eligible to be part of the Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2016. The inductees will be announced on April 4 in Houston. If Iverson is not among them check your calendar — that means it’s really April 1 and the Hall is playing a joke on us. Because if Allen Iverson isn’t a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, they ought to shut Springfield down. Iverson was a transformative figure in the NBA both on and off the court. He was the hardest player to guard of his era. That alone — the sleep he caused defenders to lose — should qualify him.
True, no championship trophies for AI. But plenty of players are in the Hall without the hardware. Right, Charles Barkley? Iverson led the league in scoring four times and — even more impressive — led the NBA in minutes played seven times. He won the MVP. He was Rookie of the Year. He made the All-Star team nine times. And what he had to go through to do it? If that counts, then double the votes. When Iverson was a rookie and lit up the world champion Bulls for 44, they gave him a hard time because he supposedly didn’t have enough respect for Michael Jordan. AI said: “They don’t know what I’ve been through and what I had to endure to get here.” Another quote from that rookie year postgame should go his plaque: “I’m not a soft person,” Iverson said. “There’s nothing weak about me.”