The Philadelphia 76ers closed out a chapter of its history on Saturday (March 1), when they retired Allen Iverson’s No. 3.
During halftime of the Sixers’ game against the Washington Wizards, and in front of 20,000 hometown fans, an emotional Iverson was given a standing ovation as his banner was lifted into the rafters between the legendary Maurice Cheeks’ No. 10 and Charles Barkley’s No. 34.
“They all wanted me to talk about how much y’all loved me,” Iverson said, “but trust me, the feeling was mutual.”
During the evening, four banners featuring Iverson greeted fans at the main concourse entrance, and photos of him were plastered all around the arena. The merchandise stands sold Iverson jerseys for $130, and lower level tickets were going for as much for $1,280 on Stubhub an hour before the 7:30 p.m. tip-off… and was its highest-priced 76ers home game this season, with the median ticket going for $109, reports ESPN.
The team, itself, paid homage to A.I., rocking special “Iverson Forever” patches on their jerseys and Iverson’s #3 on their pregame warmup shirts. The Sixers also gave him a retirement gift: a boat named in honor of his nickname, “The Answer.”
“It feels good,” Iverson said after the ceremony, “but some part of my heart hurts because I know it’s over.”
Iverson officially retired in October, after last playing in 2010. During his career, A.I. won four scoring titles for the Sixers and was the 2001 MVP, when he led them to the NBA Finals. He never won a championship, the lone omission in a career that is destined for the Hall of Fame.
Iverson joined Cheeks, Barkley, Wilt Chamberlain and Julius Erving among the eight retired numbers in franchise history. Erving attended the ceremony. Moses Malone, Dikembe Mutombo, Theo Ratliff, Gary Payton and former team president Pat Croce also were also at the celebration.