The Philadelphia 76ers will retire Allen Iverson's No. 3 jersey this evening when the team takes on the Washington Wizards. Iverson officially retired this past October, though he had been out of the NBA since 2010, when he averaged career lows in points (13.8), assists (4.0) and steals (0.7) per game in three games with the Grizzlies and 25 games with the Sixers.
The future Hall-of-Famer has had one of the most storied careers in NBA history, and it's safe to say there will never be another player of his stature, scoring ability and handles rolled into one. And during his 14-year NBA career, he did damage to every team in the league. He averaged between 22.6 and 29.7 points against all 30 teams, peaking against division foe Toronto and bottoming out against Phoenix in 22 career games.
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And the Bulls were hardly exempt from the torment. In 37 career games against the Bulls, Iverson averaged 28.3 points on 46 percent shooting, 3.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 40 minutes per game. So in honor of Iverson's jersey retirement ceremony, here's a look at Iverson's five best games against the Bulls.
5. April 7, 1997
Iverson's numbers: 44 points, 16-32 FG, 8 assists, 48 minutes
Late in his first year, Iverson was well on his way to being named Rookie of the Year. Yet he saved one of his best performances for the end of the season, when he poured in 44 points, tying his season-high, and handed out eight assists in the Sixers' 128-102 loss to the 66-10 Bulls. Given the opponent and the Sixers' fortunes to date (they were just 21-53 heading into the game) this was a mighty impressive performance. He hit six 3-pointers, played the entire game and went toe-to-toe with perhaps the best team in NBA history. It also started a stretch of play where Iverson scored 40 or more points in five straight games. In that span he averaged a remarkable 43.6 points, 7.4 assists and 4.2 3-pointers per game.
4. March 12, 1997
Iverson's numbers: 37 points, 15-23 FG, 4 assists, 36 minutes
Weeks earlier Iverson was just as good against Jordan and the Bulls, scoring 37 points on 15 of 23 shooting and dishing out four assists in a four-point loss to the Bulls. He battled foul trouble much of the evening, eventually fouling out in 36 minutes. The biggest accomplishment, however, occurred when the flashy rookie crossed over Jordan and splashed a 17-foot jumper in the eventual MVP's face. He went 5-for-8 from beyond the arc, made both his free throws and had a chance late to knock off the 54-8 Bulls.
3. January 17, 2001
Iverson's numbers: 43 points, 15-25 FG, 5 assists, 4 steals, 46 minutes
The tides of the Sixers and Bulls had shifted drastically by the early 2000s, with Philadelphia one of the top teams in the East and Chicago struggling to find any sort of success in the post-Jordan era. Still, this performance was worthy of note, as Iverson was everywhere in 46 effective minutes, making 60 percent of his shots, accounting for nearly half of the Sixers' scoring and making 11 of 12 free throws. With the game tight into the fourth quarter, Iverson saved his best for last, scoring 11 points and helping blow the game open in an eventual 11-point win for Philly, 99-88. As a side note, this was the Bulls' starting lineup that night: Fred Hoiberg, Bryce Drew, Ron Mercer, Michael Ruffin and Elton Brand. My, how the times have changed.
2. November 7, 2003
Iverson's numbers: 33 points, 11-21 FG, 11 assists, 8 steals, 36 minutes
The Sixers blew the Bulls out by 21 on this night, 106-85, and Iverson played just 36 minutes. But his numbers were absolutely astonishing, becoming one of five players to tally at least 30 points, 10 assists and 8 steals in a single game (that feat has been accomplished twice since then, both by Chris Paul). Iverson accomplished the feat in the fewest number of minutes, and he had one turnover as well. He made 11 of 12 free throws and had a +29 rating in the win. Nothing flashy or heroic in this one, just one heck of a line.
1. November 24, 2006
Iverson's numbers: 46 points, 15-30 FG, 5 rebounds, 10 assists, 45 minutes
This was simply a masterpiece from Iverson, who tallied his season-high in points in the 10th game of the season. Though he missed all six of his 3-point attempts, he still managed to shoot 50 percent from the field, made 16 of 17 free throws and handed out 10 assists while turning it over twice. He even tallied one of his 13 blocks on the year. Iverson's numbers trailed off in a big way in 2006-07 -- he went from averaging a career-best 33.0 points per game to just 26.3 that year -- but this will go down as one of his best statistical lines of his career.