No small fry
Iverson puts up big numbers despite small stature
Updated: Tuesday February 06, 2001 8:14 PM
By Desmond M. Wallace, CNNSI.com
He is averaging nearly 30 points a night for the Sixers, the club with the NBA's best record. He is leading Philadelphia in scoring in nine of every 10 games played. So far in 2000-'01, he is guiding Philly to the franchise's best winning percentage since the 1982-'83 championship team. And, despite the presence of a myriad of giant defenders all around him, he is performing all of his basketball brilliance at just 6-feet and 165 pounds.
Say what you want about Allen Iverson. But the truth of the matter is that the NBA has never laid eyes on a better scorer at his size. In fact, in more than 50 years of NBA play, no one 6' or shorter has ever had a higher scoring average in a single season than Iverson has right now.
During his playing days, Nate "Tiny" Archibald needed an extra inch. Back in 1972-'73, the Kansas City-Omaha Kings' 6'1" guard led the league in scoring at 34.0 PPG. Before his career ended in 1983-'84, Archibald would produce five 20.0 PPG seasons. A fifth-year player this year, the 25 year-old Iverson will have accomplished that by the end of spring.
While only a handful of past NBA 6-footers can even be mentioned in the same breath as the Sixers star, Iverson certainly has no such contemporary peer in terms of scoring prowess. In fact, the NBA hoopsters who are Iverson's height or shorter with the next-highest scoring averages are Charlotte's David Wesley and Denver's Nick Van Exel, who between them have never seen a scoring average next to their names that didn't end in teen.
In the past 25 years, only one 7-footer has ever averaged more in a given season than the diminutive Iverson's current 29.1 PPG.
As paying NBA patrons and opposing defenses will attest, some of Iverson's heroics this season have come in rather explosive fashion. He has already recorded eight 40-point games. Among them, Iverson registered an NBA season-high (and personal career-high) 54 points against Cleveland and 51 two weeks later in outdueling Vince Carter (who had 39) against Toronto last month. In addition to the Raptors' game, among others, Iverson has already outscored Tracy McGrady, Chris Webber, Kevin Garnett, Antoine Walker, Tim Duncan, and Michael Finley head-to-head this season.
Particularly for his size, Iverson has clearly demonstrated night after night an acute ability to score virtually at will. He stands as tall as any scorer around today. And the 300-plus players on the 28 other NBA teams have been able to do little else but simply look up and marvel.