Allen Iverson is my all-time favorite NBA player. Yes I loved Michael Jordan and of course I recognize and admire the greatness of Kobe Bryant and Lebron James but they aren’t Iverson. No one is. Iverson wasn’t blessed with incredible height, the purest shot or even respect for the important for practice but he was special.
What made Iverson special, what made him the first pick in the draft, a rookie of the year, a scoring champ and league MVP was his unteachable quickness. When Iverson had the ball, he was simply unstoppable. If you loaded up the lane, he would either dart through the crowd or sprint around it. Corner him and he would kill you with an unexpected pass. Dare him to shoot and he would. Iverson was fearless.
His talent was immense but his true greatness was heart. Iverson was dripping with passion that was evident to anyone that watched him play. He sacrificed his body with every penetrating drive but he never stopped. He couldn’t. He laid it all out there each and every game. His small frame could have been a deterrent to such a constant physical pounding but ‘The Answer’ had no quit in him. None.
Perhaps I loved Iverson because I, like him, am short. Whenever I played pick-up basketball, I was always him. Or maybe I liked him because of his cool shoes, his style, the iconic dreads or inherent coolness that he exuded. Or maybe it just was his overall game. Whatever the reason, Iverson shall forever be the man. Until recently, I thought I’d never see anyone like him but then I heard about Julian “Handles” Newman.
As you can see from the photo, Julian is young. As you can also see, he is quite short, 4-foot-5 to be exact. What you can’t see is what makes this 11-year-old fifth grader special. To see that, just give him a basketball. With a ball in his hands, Julian, all 70 pounds of him, is basically a miniature version of Iverson. All the joy of playing that Iverson showed when he played, and the unteachable quickness, just jumps out at anyone that is lucky enough to be witness. See for yourself…
Pretty crazy right? This pint-sized elementary kid starts for a high school basketball team. He is so good that he embarrasses opponents since no losing to someone that young and that small is not something any high schooler wants. As my brother said about having to wrestle a girl, it’s just a lose lose situation. A few teams apparently agree as their forfeiting against Julian’s team is evidence of.
All I know is that Julian has that “it” factor that Iverson had. He lets his game do the talking and he is already exhibiting that fearlessness that Iverson had in spades. You don’t play against high schoolers without guts. I truly hope that Julian plays in the NBA many years from now so I can cheer on this “little Iverson.” And, while I’m dreaming, I hope he plays for the Atlanta Hawks, wears #3 and Iverson takes him on as an understudy. A boy can dream…