Allen Iverson, one of the Basketball Hall of Fame’s newest members along with Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming, Sheryl Swoopes and others, went on the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to explain, among other things, breaking Michael Jordan’s ankles, how wearing cornrows came out of necessity because he didn’t want to find a barber when he was on the road, his charitable work and so much more. The most poignant moment comes, however, when Colbert gets Iverson to open up about his influence on style in basketball. How when he was a player, his tattoos and the way he dressed were often used against him by the league and media. Today, as Colbert points out, “LeBron can be all tatted out and nobody says anything,” and players can wear whatever they want (not totally true, the league still has a dress code in place that went into effect at the start of the 2005–06 NBA season). Iverson tells the host that’s “bittersweet” to him.
When a player gets into the Hall of Fame for their respective career, it’s really the ultimate sign of respect, that you’re among the elites in the sport and nobody can debate that. For Iverson, it’s been a difficult road, from media scrutiny to the league’s very public discomfort with the way he dressed and carried himself. Usually a player gets in and that’s it, they can go on to their broadcasting career or whatever they want to do, but this is different. From glowing articles looking back on hit career to his induction speech and late night talk shows, watching A.I. get the respect he’s always deserved is a long time coming and a fun thing to see.