This is a picture of Allen Iverson dribbling a ball at center court on the 76ers logo. Next to him it says: Allen Iverson Championships?

Allen Iverson Championships? Nope. Here’s Why.

There were no Allen Iverson championships – he never won a ring. Iverson is one of the greatest players in NBA history but his style of solo offense and gambling on defense did not add up to much winning. Iverson’s teams missed the playoffs five times and only made it past the conference finals once. 

Does Allen Iverson Have a Ring?

Allen Iverson does not have a ring. His teams never won a championship and, in fact, were only close one time.

Iverson played 11 seasons in two stints with the Philadelphia 76ers, two seasons with the Denver Nuggets and one with the Detroit Pistons. 

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Allen Iverson Poster

As you can see below, Iverson’s teams did not make the playoffs in five of his 14 NBA seasons. His teams made the playoffs and lost in the first round another 5 times. 

Iverson’s teams lost in the 2nd round, or the Conference Semifinals, 3 more times. 

Iverson’s 2001 76ers made the NBA Finals where they lost to Kobe and Shaq’s dominant Lakers squad.

That trip to the 2001 Finals was the only time in Iverson’s career when his team made it beyond the second round of the playoffs.  

YearRecordPlayoff ResultOpponent
96-9722-60Did Not QualifyN/A
97-9831-51Did Not QualifyN/A
98-9928-22Lost East SemisIndiana Pacers
99-0049-33Lost East SemisIndiana Pacers
00-0156-26Lost NBA FinalsLA Lakers
01-0243-39Lost 1st RoundBoston Celtics
02-0348-34Lost East SemisDetroit Pistons
03-0433-49Did Not QualifyN/A
04-0543-39Lost 1st RoundDetroit Pistons
05-0638-44Did Not QualifyN/A

In the 2006-2007 season, Iverson was traded from the 76er to the Denver Nuggets

06-0745-37Lost 1st RoundSan Antonio Spurs
07-0850-32Lost 1st RoundLA Lakers

After playing 3 games for Denver in 2008-2009, AI was traded to the Detroit Pistons

08-0939-43Lost 1st RoundCleveland Cavs

After playing only 3 games for the Memphis Grizzlies in 2009-2010, Allen Iverson was traded back to Philly for his last season in the NBA. 

09-1027-55Did Not QualifyN/A

How Many Times Did Allen Iverson Go to the NBA Finals?

Allen Iverson only made it to the NBA Finals one time. His 2001 Philadelphia 76ers made the NBA Finals after dispatching all of their Eastern Conference opponents.

In the NBA Finals, the Sixers were dispatched somewhat easily by a great Lakers team featuring both Shaq and Kobe in the prime of their careers. The Lakers won in five games.

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Allen Iverson & Kobe Poster

Shaquille O’Neal was named 2001 Finals MVP after averaging an incredible 33 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists and nearly 3.5 blocks per game for the series. 

Iverson averaged 36 points, 5.5 rebounds and nearly 4 assists per game in a losing effort for the Sixers. 

It was somewhat incredible that Iverson’s Sixers team made it to the Finals. The starters besides Iverson were a 34-year-old Dikembe Mutombo, Eric Snow, Aaron McKie, and Tyrone Hill. 

Mutombo is a Hall of Fame player but he was traded to the Sixers late in this season, and he brought what he always brought: defense. 

The Sixers were already good defensively and he helped them even more with that. But what Mutombo did not bring was what the Sixers needed: more offense.

Outside of Iverson, the 76ers had almost no offense. Mutombo scored well above his career average in the Finals at 17 per game. But Snow was the only other Sixer above 10 points per game in the Finals.

Beside Mutombo, the rest of the names on the Sixers roster were not the kind of names you’d expect to see being the 2nd or 3rd best player on an NBA Finals team. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have been 1/10 as good at basketball as any of them. But for an NBA Finals team, the Sixers roster was very weak. 

And it was quite one-sided at that. Nearly all the players were good defensively but weak offensively. 

When you added that all up, there was not enough to give the Sixers much of a chance at beating a team featuring all-time greats Shaq and Kobe, 7-time Finals winner Robert Horry, borderline Hall of Famer Horace Grant  and other solid players. 

Why Didn’t Allen Iverson Win a Ring? 

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Allen Iverson Poster

Allen Iverson was an amazing athlete and a great scorer in the NBA, but his style did not lead to consistent winning in the league.

His teams missed the playoffs five times but made the NBA Finals only once. 

It can be hard to pin down how much a player helps his teams win. 

A (good, NBA level) player who shot the ball every time he touched it might score a lot of points, but he’d be making it easier for opponents to guard his team and likely would be making his team much worse.

He could compound that problem  if he stood around except for when he touched the ball.

Similarly, a player who guarded the heck out of his opponent while playing no help/team defense might hold his opponent to poor shooting numbers, but he’d be making his own team’s overall defense much worse. 

So scoring a lot of points or getting a lot of steals are not the same thing as helping your team win. Doing both COULD help your team, but it’s not automatic that it will.

Allen Iverson was an elite scorer in the NBA. He averaged 27 points per game for his career and was over 30 per game many years in his prime. 

He also led the NBA in steals three times as well. But I argued here that Allen Iverson was not nearly as good on defense as some people remember him being.

He got a lot of steals, but he gambled to get them. Steals on defense stand out like scoring on offense. Everyone notices players scoring or getting steals, but both can be misleading in terms of winning.

The best players make their team’s overall defense and offense better. You can see this in players like Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. They were great two-way players who played incredible team defense and made their team’s offenses much better as well.

Other players like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were much better on one end like Iverson was. But Bird and Magic were both players who elevated the players around them. Both scored and distributed at another level. 

Iverson was much more of a pure scorer on offense who used his elite athleticism and fierce competitiveness to get buckets. He was not much of a passer. He got points for his team but did little to help his teammates score. 

People who study the game at a much deeper level than I do, like Ben Taylor, don’t have Iverson ranked in the top 40 players of all time. That’s because his game was much more individual and did not elevate his teams either with offensive creation or with elite team defense. 

Allen Iverson likely would have done a lot more winning if he’d been paired with a complimentary star like the Big Ticket or the Big Fundamental. But AI was never paired with another great player in Philly.

Iverson was matched with Carmelo Anthony in Denver. But that pairing was far from ideal as both players were scoring machines who did not play great defense nor create for others on offense. They both scored, but it didn’t add up to much in the way of winning. 

Allen Iverson did not win a ring because his style of solo offense and gambling on defense made for more highlights than it did wins. 

The fans in Philly, and across the league, loved him and still do. He makes his living these days mostly by being a legend. But Allen Iverson is more of a legend for his grit, scoring and authenticity than he is for winning. 

Summary: Allen Iverson Championships

Allen Iverson never won any NBA championships. As great a player as Iverson was, his teams did not win much. He missed the playoffs in five seasons and was knocked out in the first round five more times. Iverson only made the NBA Finals once, losing to the Lakers.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Adapted from – “Allen Iverson and the Sixers” by Kevin Burkett is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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