Saying goodbye: Allen Iverson retires from NBA

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Allen Iverson’s highlights played one more time on the big screen, diehard Philadelphia 76ers fans and Julius Erving all part of the crowd catching one more glimpse of No. 3 in his prime.

His killer crossover in his rookie season that dusted Michael Jordan.

The jumper he buried over Tyronn Lue, then the highstep over the fallen Lakers defender in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals.

All there. All as much part of Iverson’s DNA as the rants about practice, the cornrows, the controversy.

All in the past.

This was time for A.I to say goodbye.

Iverson officially called it quits _ though, in truth, it was the NBA that gave up on him _ nearly four years after he played his final game.

He did it in typical A.I. flair, eschewing a suit fit for an elder statesman for a black, leather hoodie, askew black cap and a gold chain around his neck.

“I always felt like it was cool being me,” Iverson said.

Iverson retired Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center, the site of so many of the moments he crafted into a Hall of Fame worthy career. Iverson led the Sixers to the 2001 NBA finals, won four scoring titles, clashed with former coach Larry Brown, and was an All-Star game fixture. Winning a championship is the lone void in a bio sheet that forever stamps him among the league’s greats.

The undersized guard with the supersized heart was a perfect match in a city that prizes authenticity and hustle as much as production.

“I’m going to always be a Sixer til I die,” he said.

And his number will always hang in the rafters. Iverson’s No. 3 will be retired on March 1 against Washington.

The 38-year-old Iverson had not played an NBA game since Feb. 20, 2010, in his second, short-lived stint with the Sixers. The 6-foot, 165-pound guard also played for Denver, Detroit and Memphis over a 14-year career that has him 19th on the career scoring list with 24,368 points.

He also played in Turkey before realizing the NBA doors would not open for him again.

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