Wade heaps praise on Iverson in Hall of Fame speech, thanks him for inspiration

Wade heaps praise on Iverson in Hall of Fame speech, thanks him for inspiration originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Why would Heat great Dwyane Wade pick Sixers legend Allen Iverson as his Hall of Fame presenter?

In Wade’s enshrinement speech Sunday night, he took a good, thoughtful chunk of time to answer that question.

Wade was part of a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class that includes Dirk Nowitzki, Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker, Becky Hammon and Pau Gasol. He stood on stage Saturday night in Springfield, Massachusetts with Iverson seated to his right. Iverson was dressed for the occasion, wearing a special blazer with Wade’s name and number three on the back.

About midway through his speech, Wade looked toward Iverson, a 2016 Hall of Fame inductee. Here’s what he said (you can watch the video below):

“As I reflect on my own destiny and the impact that my heroes have had on my life, I’m reminded that our heroes are not always perfect. Instead, they possess a relatability that makes them touchable and real. When anyone speaks about Allen Iverson, that’s exactly what they say. He’s real. So A.I., I need you to know this: I watched you with awe because I saw a reflection of myself in you. The way you played the game was exciting and fearless. It didn’t matter who they put in front of you. They weren’t going to stop you. I know. I tried.

“It didn’t matter what they said about you because they couldn’t measure the size of your heart. Your authenticity and unapologetic attitude resonated with me. Your swagger, your unique style — rocking durags, braids, the baggy shorts, the untucked jerseys, the earrings, the chains, the throwback jerseys. It all combined to create an image that broke the mold. You challenged conventional norms and became the poster child for individuality and self-expression, inspiring countless individuals to embrace their own uniqueness.

“You brought hope to those who grew up with limited resources. You showed us that success and greatness were attainable, even in the face of adversity. Your struggles made your accomplishments that much more remarkable. A.I., you are a living, breathing reminder that redemption and growth are possible. You inspired a generation, my damn self included, to believe that coming from nothing was not a limitation but motivation.

“I wore an arm sleeve throughout my career because A.I. did. I respectfully wore the No. 3 throughout my college and NBA career to represent the love and the respect that I have for this man. So from the bottom of my heart, you are the culture and we love you and we thank you, Allen Iverson.”

Iverson was the first pick of the 1996 NBA draft, Wade the fifth pick of the 2003 draft. They faced off 16 times in the NBA (each won eight times), never in the playoffs.

As Wade explained Saturday night, Iverson’s impact went far beyond their on-court duels.

His full enshrinement speech is below:

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