Straight as an arrow, poster-boy looks and an image so squeaky clean and immaculate it borders on boring. Thanks to Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and the MCU that is the first thing that comes to our mind when we think of ‘Captain America’. But there’s always two sides to a coin and in an alternate universe, Allen “The Answer” Iverson was the basketball variant we wanted, and for sure he was the Cap we needed.
But let’s roll back the timeline to 2004. Olympic Basketball Tournament in Athens, Greece. Team USA on a mission to win Gold yet again. What ended in an embarrassing failure – no way to sugarcoat this -, the one bright spot was the play of Allen Iverson. The superstar point guard of the Philadelphia 76ers gave his Olympic debut for the Red, White and Blue and finished the tournament as the leading scorer for bronze-‘winning’ Team USA.
Fast-forward to July 2021 when the global release of the legendary Reebok Question ‘Team USA’ colorway pays homage to the unrelenting and fearless performance “The Answer” gave in Athens. The navy nubuck upper, striking red lines and white details are inspired by the US’ Olympic jerseys and capture the patriotic theme all Team USA gear comes equipped with. AI’s #4 at the heels completes the overall team look.
Although the overall performance of the US national team ulimately ended in defeat, losing to Argentina in the semi-finals, it is also the moment when Allen Iverson proved himself as a team leader who did not shy away from accountability when his contemporaries remained noticeably quiet.
As one of the few players who went through the Olympic qualifying stages and also fulfilled the obligation to go to Athens, Iverson was named team captain and showed grit and a lot of heart playing for a country that did not exactly welcome him with open arms when he entered the NBA. Labeled as a ‘thug’ and a selfish player, AI put his country first and carried the team when youngsters like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony were not yet ready to do so. His authenticity and overall conduct during the two humiliating weeks in Greece helped cement Iverson’s undisputed status as a cultural icon which was revered around the world.
Today, Allen Iverson’s name signifies a player who was unwilling to conform and to compromise. Who always remained true to himself and the teammates he played with. Who took the hits and kept on coming … again and again and again like a true superhero.
AI – The Answer – Captain America. Who would have thought.
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