SIXERS

Why Durant says Iverson made him the player he is today

SIXERS

When you think of Allen Iverson, you think of a tiny player with a lightning-quick crossover and an inhuman ability to hit tough shot after tough shot.

When you think of Kevin Durant, you think of an enormously rangy player with the coldest and most efficient jumper in the league.

But the more you think about it, the more you can see the similarities in their games, especially when you remember that Iverson came first.

And that's what Durant explained this week after he passed Iverson for 25th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Durant, who is inching closer and closer to the top tiers of all-time great basketball players, said passing Iverson was a huge deal to him because of how much the Sixers legend meant to Durant when he was a young player figuring out his own game.

Here's why Iverson meant so much to Durant, and why passing Iverson feels so special, in KD's own words:

"I mean, it means the world. I dedicated my life to this game at an early age ... so I watched all these guys that I'm like passing up.

"I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be in the NBA like them, and make an impact in the league like them. So Iverson, he was the pantheon for me. One of those guys that I emulated every time I went outside and played with my friends. It's all surreal. I pictured I would be in the league, and had an idea ... but to do it is pretty special.

 

"I really became a huge Iverson fan, obviously, just like everybody else his rookie year. But seeing him at Georgetown and playing for coach [John] Thompson and that whole culture that they built there, he was a huge part of that. But once he came to the league, he had players ... I was a center, power forward on my young team, and we all were long crossing and double crossing. He influenced a lot of people.

"So to pass him on the list and to be up there with some of the greats on that list is incredible. I've just got to keep going."

Feel how you want to feel about Durant's career path and his off-court personality, but this is a really cool nugget from Durant.

My first thought wasn't to connect Durant's time growing up in D.C. to Iverson's two-year stint at Georgetown, but as Iverson was making those NCAA tournament runs with the Hoyas, Durant was around six to eight years old. Think about some of your biggest sports memories: they come from when you were a kid and just realizing how much you loved sports. Those are big years! So I can picture Durant watching Iverson play on a local team, then going out and practicing his crossover to be just like AI.

Durant's game is particularly singular for a seven-footer, in that his handles basically mirror a guard's control over the ball despite his size. There's no doubt growing up on a steady diet of Iverson highlights was a huge reason for Durant turning into the player he is today: an unguardable scorer who gets buckets with ease.

Iverson now sits at No. 26 overall in NBA history with 24,368 points. The next two guys on the list who pose threats to his standing are James Harden (1,929 points behind) and Russell Westbrook (2,112 points behind).