Allen Iverson Explains Why NBA Players Like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant Are Today’s ‘AI’

Retired NBA star Allen Iverson apparently has a lot of respect for LeBron James and the way that he plays the game.

Iverson recently made it clear that the current NBA players that can be compared to him in his prime include names like LeBron James as well as Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.

During an interview with Rachel Nichols on ESPN’s The Jump, Allen shared his strong opinions about how he is connected to those popular and talented NBA stars on the roster today. Two-time champion LeBron James was the very first name that Allen Iverson said after Rachel asked him who in today’s game reminds him the most of himself.

However, he also made it clear in the interview that his choices have nothing to do with their game and overall performance on the court. In Allen’s opinion, the connection goes much deeper than that.

“Their heart…and the way they compete… The fight in them. That’s why I would say LeBron. LeBron ain’t got none of my game, but his heart is all mine.”

It may seem like Allen Iverson shined a major spotlight on LeBron James during that particular interview even with his relatively brief comment. However, many NBA fans and critics may remember that the Cleveland Cavaliers star once shined an even bigger spotlight on the former Philadelphia 76ers point guard back in 2013.

Days before Allen Iverson officially retired from the NBA in late 2013, ESPN reported that LeBron James made it clear that the man referred to as “A.I.” was one of his childhood idols. James even went as far as saying that “pound-for-pound” Allen Iverson was “probably the greatest player who ever played.”

He also mentioned that, while he was not able to take any part of his game from Allen Iverson, he was inspired by his will.

“I watch Jordan more than anybody for sure. But I’ll watch tapes of A.I., too. I don’t take anything from A.I.. Well, I do — his will. They say he was 6 feet, but A.I. was like 5-10½. Do we even want to say 160? 170 [pounds]? Do we even want to give him that much weight? And he played like a 6-8 2-guard. He was one of the greatest finishers we’ve ever seen. You could never question his heart. Ever. He gave it his all. A.I. was like my second-favorite player growing up, after MJ.”

Throughout the peak and prime of his career in the NBA, Allen Iverson was one of the highest scorers of his time. Many fans and critics had high hopes for Iverson and his future in the NBA overall. However, his career took a major hit when he was only 34 years old due to injuries taking their toll on his overall performance and effectiveness on the court. His playing career came to an end back in 2010 after playing 25 games with the NBA team that first drafted him in 1996 — the Philadelphia 76ers.

LeBron James stated that, even with the unfortunate end of his career, Allen Iverson’s overall accomplishments and the mark that he made in the NBA overall will always be remembered.

“[Iverson] reminds me of Floyd Mayweather. You could never question [Iverson’s] heart, his will to want to win. A true warrior… I hate the fact that his career ended the way it did. But he had an unbelievable career.”

Many fans and critics would agree that the career and legacy of Allen Iverson received the respect and honor that they deserved when Iverson recently became a confirmed addition to the list of 2016 Hall of Fame inductees.

[Image Credit: Matt Stroshane/Getty Images]