4. Just like there will never be another Barkley, there will never, ever, ever, ever, EVER be another Iverson. In fact, here's the short list of players from the post-Russell era who will never be seen again for genetic or physical reasons, all of whom can be identified with one name:
Bird + Magic: For obvious reasons.
Barkley: A 6-foot-4 power forward with a weight problem who somehow doubled as a dominant rebounder and low-post player, as well as the greatest runaway train on fast breaks there ever was. Nobody took a charge from Barkley from 1985 through 1996. It never happened. Nobody ever caused more players to cower for their lives than Barkley on a fast break.
Nimphius: Imagine Jon Bon Jovi's middle part from the "Wanted: Dead or Alive" tour merged with George Clooney's extended mullet from "The Facts of Life."
Gervin: I just can't see anyone else scoring 30-40 a night on bank shots, runners and finger rolls when he's 6-foot-8 and about 110 pounds. He was skinnier than a supermodel. Incredible to watch in person.
McHale: A genetic freak. When will we see another 6-foot-11 forward with his low-post moves, shot-blocking skills and arms that are six-inches too long for his body who was able to dominate games while wearing Richard Simmons' shorts? If his feet hadn't betrayed him, he could have played until he was 45. I will always believe this.
Maravich: For reasons that can't be adequately described in a single paragraph. He's in my top five for "Athletes who most desperately need an HBO Sports documentary about them."
Kareem: I just don't see anyone replicating the skyhook in my lifetime. Or his general ninnyness.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images Bo doesn't know how to drive the lane like AI.Iverson: Other than Bo Jackson, the most incredible athlete I've ever watched in person.
Well, why aren't more people mentioning that last point this week?
You really think somebody THIS GIFTED could be washed up in the next two years? He has better balance than everyone else. He's more coordinated than everyone else. He's faster than everyone else. He's feistier than anyone else. He takes a superhuman pounding and keeps getting up. He's an athletic freak. Iverson could have been an unbelievable soccer player. He could have been a world-class boxer and a remarkable defensive center fielder and base stealer. He could have picked his sport in track and field and competed for an Olympic spot. I can't fathom how much ground he could have covered on a tennis court. We already know that he was one of the greatest high school quarterbacks in Virginia history. And I don't care how much partying he's done, how much of a pounding he's taken over the years, how big a posse he has, how difficult he's been at times ... you can't change somebody's genetic makeup. He's not even close to being washed up.
More importantly, could you go to war with him? Would you want him out there in the last five minutes of a Game 7? Could he carry a good team and make it great? If one of your guys got slammed into a basket support on a drive, would he be the first guy who ran over to get in the offending player's face? Would the other team's fans be terrified of him every time he had the ball? Would he come through when it mattered?
Would you really bet against Allen Iverson?