NBA

76ers used to hide Allen Iverson’s jersey to prevent him from playing while injured, ex-GM reveals

Allen Iverson’s ability to play through pain was legendary. It would have to be for the former Philadelphia 76ers guard to have survived in the NBA. Listed at 6-0 but widely believed to be shorter, Iverson’s game revolved largely around barreling towards the basket and getting attacked by bigger players. It led him to the Hall of Fame, an MVP award and countless other accolades, but common sense also suggests it contributed to a career’s worth of injuries.

Iverson made a habit of playing through them, but from time to time, his team had to step in and force him to sit out. That’s not easy with a star as proud as Iverson, so ex-76ers general manager Billy King explained how he kept his point guard off of the floor on The Audacy NBA Show with Ryan McDonough (h/t Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire): he’d literally hide his jersey so he couldn’t play. 

“When he was injured and we knew he couldn’t play we used to hide his jersey. Because he would come to the locker room looking for his jersey, we’d lock it somewhere so he couldn’t get it…. One time, in New York, he found his jersey but didn’t have any shoes. He was trying to send the ball boy to the Foot Locker around the corner. He said ‘just give me a pair of their Reeboks. I can play in those.’ Then he pointed to an attendant, ‘what size are you, just give me those shoes,’ because he wanted to play so bad.”

This is par for the Iverson course. He is legendarily competitive, and given how little help he had on most of those Philadelphia rosters, he knew that his team’s only chance to win on most nights involved him playing through pain. It’s a somewhat foreign concept in a modern NBA increasingly cautious about every single injury a star sustains, but given the physicality of Iverson’s era, there was simply no other way he could have played. 



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