If there was ever an NBA iconoclast, it was Allen Iverson. In a time when the league was desperate to find somebody to eventually replace Michael Jordan’s clean-cut image, Iverson proved that you didn’t need to wear a suit and tie to resonate and be embraced by the fans. For better or worse, Iverson never wavered or changed who he was throughout his entire NBA career.
His fearless approach to the game is why he has the respect of damn near anybody who ever saw him play and played against him. He really did play like every game like it was his last.
But before we saw that side of A.I., there was a time when we were still being introduced to the future superstar. In 1997, he was coming off a successful first season that saw him break scoring records and bring home the Rookie of the Year trophy. Iverson was also fresh off dropping a very popular sneaker, the Reebok Question, which holds a special place in many sneakerhead’s hearts to this day. You might want to ask Jordan if he remembers those “Pearlized Red” Questions.
Anyways, Reebok had a tough act to follow and instead of going with something like the Question 2 (uh….), they went ahead and called Iverson’s next sneaker The Answer. Featuring the revolutionary DMX cushioning system, the Reebok Answer was going to blow people’s minds. But they needed an ad that was going to do the same if people were really going to buy into it. Enter Allen’s new move…
Two years before The Matrix coined the phrase, Allen Iverson was already living in “Bullet Time.”
This new commercial featured Iverson displaying this brand new move that was going to blow people’s mind. It consisted of A.I. doing a slow spin, putting the ball behind his back and then cutting in the opposite direction after the spin with the ball right where it needs to be. Sure, we would see moves like that on AND1 mix tapes like they were nothing years later, but this was mind-blowing stuff in 1998.
I remember grabbing a basketball as soon as I saw that commercial and trying to recreate it in my backyard. Sure enough, I wasn’t the only one because every sneakerhead from that era that I’ve talked to tried the exact same thing. Thank God or that would have made for a few embarrassing conversations.