The Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2023 was inducted Saturday night, with Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade etching his name into the NBA history books with the help of Philadelphia 76ers legend Allen Iverson.
Wade selected A.I. to present him into the Hall before Saturday’s ceremony. Iverson, a Hall of Famer himself, changed the game in a number of ways culturally and on the court, and Wade wanted the opportunity to give him his credit.
“It was important to me that I touched the culture when I did this,” Wade told AndScape in July. “And Allen Iverson is somebody who gets forgotten for what he means to this game and what he means to a community and to a culture. And so, I want to bring that back to the front in the forefront and give him his flowers like he deserved and just tell him how important he was, man, to not only me, but to all the little boys that looked like me and look like him.”
Iverson was ready for the occasion, showing up Saturday night dressed in a D-Wade suit.
It was then time for inductions. Wade intended to give Iverson his flowers, and he absolutely showered him in them.
“Our heroes are not always perfect. Instead, they posess a relatability that makes them touchable and real. When anyone speaks about Allen Iverson, that’s exactly what they say,” Wade said. “So A.I., I need you to know this. I saw a reflection of myself in you. The way you played the game was exciting and fearless. It didn’t matter who they put in front of you, they weren’t gonna stop you. I know, I tried.”
It wasn’t just about what A.I. did on the court for D-Wade, but also about the image he carried and the past he ascended from on his way to NBA greatness.
“It didn’t matter what they said about you because they couldn’t measure the size of your heart. Your authenticity and unapologetic attitude resonated with me,” Wade continued. “Your swagger, unique style for rocking do-rags, braids, the baggy shorts, the untucked jerseys, the earrings, the chains, the throwback jerseys all combined to create an image that broke the mold.
“You brought hope to those who grew up with limited resources . . . A.I., you are a living, breathing reminder that redemption and growth are possible. You inspired a generation, my damn self included, to believe that coming from nothing was not a limitation, but motivation.”
Wade capped off his speech with one last thank you to the Sixers legend.
“From the bottom of my heart, you are the culture. We love you, and we thank you, Allen Iverson,” he said.
Wade now joins Iverson in the Hall of Fame. Iverson was inducted in 2016 after posting career averages of 26.7 points, 6.2 assists and 3.7 rebounds, winning an MVP in 2001 and leading the Sixers to the Finals that same year where they fell to the Los Angeles Lakers.