Calling a spade a spade, no player was in Iverson’s weight class that afternoon. Garnett was great, but A.I. was transcendent.
Damn, in his junior year Iverson averaged 31.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 9.2 assists. In his senior season Kevin Garnett averaged 26 points, 18 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 blocks…WOW…Its nice to see that both of these guys MORE than lived up to the hype. Man…Iverson should still be playing too.
Nike was king in the summer of ’93. Michael Jordan stood at the peak of his powers following a third consecutive Finals victory–one where he averaged a still-hard-to-fathom 41 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals against Charles Barkley’s Phoenix Suns**. His sneakers were much like they are now: the unchallenged holy grail of athletic footwear.
Nike was basketball, for lack of a better description.
Their annual camp in 1993 continued with the tradition of featuring a who’s-who of future college and pro stars: Raef LaFrentz, Ron Mercer, Curtis Staples, Samaki Walker, Toby Bailey, Trajan Langdon, Ronnie Fields, Ruben Patterson, Casey Jacobsen and more.
A 17-year-old from Mauldin, South Carolina, also attended the camp. Only a rising junior at the time, the attention he commanded from scouts, coaches and fellow campers was euphoric. He blocked shots, barked out assignments on both ends, ran the floor like a near-seven-foot gymnast who could’ve moonlighted as an American replacement in Barcelona the summer before, dunked with petrifying ferocity and welcomed any challenge Phil Knight could throw at him.
The kid was Kevin Garnett.
The camp’s star, though, was Allen Iverson. Already touted as the best high school basketball player in the country heading into his senior year, his junior campaign saw averages of 31.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 9.2 assists. And for good measure, he added 21 touchdowns while throwing for 14 more the same year on the gridiron. He assumed All-State and Player of the Year honors just for kicks, too. The same season, a college football recruiter described A.I. as “the most exciting player I’ve ever seen in high school.”
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