Former NBA guard Allen Iverson is known for his play on the court and the lasting cultural impact he had on the game.
But would he have had the same impact if he’s stuck with is first love: football? The Virginia native was a standout high school athlete in both basketball and football, leading teams to state championships in both. By the time his high school career was coming to a close he was a top target of college recruiters in both sports. He ultimately elected to stick with basketball.
But now, as a retired basketball player, Iverson confidently says he would have been just as phenomenal on the gridiron as he was on the hardwood.
“Not being cocky, not being arrogant, I think, no, I know that I would have been a better player playing football than I was in basketball,” Iverson told Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe on Aug. 23 episode of the “Club Shay Shay” podcast. “And that’s not disrespecting basketball guys, that’s not disrespecting the game that’s done so much for me. I mean I’m a household name, I’m a Hall of Famer in that sport, but football was my first love.”
Iverson played football at Bethel High School in Hampton where he lead his team to the state title as a junior. By the end of the season his stats included 21 touchdowns and more than 2,200 yards on the offense. By all accounts, his football highlight reels prove he was an undeniable talent on the field. In fact his play led fans on social media to draw comparisons between Iverson and fellow Virginia native and former NFL player Michael Vick.
“He was an absolute beast in football. He won State player of the year in both football and basketball an the state championship in both sports.”
“Bubba Chuck was that dude on the football field VA baby!!!”
“AI would’ve been Michael Vick before Michael Vick real talk‼️”
Similar sentiments were echoed by former North Carolina State coach Chuck Amato, who scouted Iverson for football as a Florida State assistant coach. “He was just a great athlete and a competitor. He would’ve been the first Michael Vick,” Amato told VICE Sports.
Iverson, who was known as “The Answer” during his fourteen-year NBA career, joked that a bonus to sticking with football would have been a muscular build.
“Shannon, you know if I would have had to get on the gridiron then I would have never stopped lifting weights after high school, you would have seen a whole totally different physique I might be looking like you or something,” he said as Sharpe erupted into laughter.
He went on the admit that as a basketball player he felt the weights were too heavy.
“😂😂😂he ain’t like weights cus he thought they was too heavy. He funny as hell”
“D—n. If Allen lifted weights for the NBA 🤯. Probably would’ve added 5 years of his prime,” commented another fan on social. Iverson ultimately retired in October of 2013 — by that point he had already won MVP (2001) and was an 11-time NBA All-Star. Three years later he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame alongside Shaquille O’Neal.