Allen Iverson is one of the most iconic athletes of all time. During his time in the NBA, he was an amazing talent who made his name both on and off the court. The former shooting guard was a perennial all-star and scoring champion, but he is truly remembered for his cultural impact on basketball. He is the sole reason why the NBA instituted a dress code! Let's take a stroll down memory lane as we revisit 13 times Iverson brought Black culture to basketball.

1. Getting his hair braided while on the bench

As we know, braids are a huge part of African American culture. In the NBA, there’s probably no one who made that hairstyle more famous than Iverson. Cornrows were his braid style of choice, and he always kept them fresh. As you can see in the video above, he was so committed to that idea that he made sure to finish getting his hair braided during a game.

2. His rap album

The Virginia native rose to prominence at a time when ballers really wanted to be rappers and vice versa. Players like Tony Parker and Kobe Bryant came out with rap albums, and so did Iverson. I’ll leave you all to be the judge here, but keep your expectations as realistic as possible. His foray into music was indicative of the time he played in, but also a staple of Black culture.

3. The baggy shorts

It could be due to his slim frame, but a baggy uniform on Iverson looked oversized. Much like the University of Michigan’s Fab Five, Iverson made the look famous but in the professional ranks. With urban style taking a backseat in the mid-2010s, fitted European fashion became the standard in the NBA. The update made loose-fitting uniforms a thing of the past. Prior to that though, Iverson and baggy shorts were synonymous.

4. The shooting sleeve

When we talk about athletic fashion, Iverson revolutionized the compression arm sleeve. As seen above, this wasn’t planned; he just became comfortable wearing it after a procedure. But because the icon was the litmus test for cool in the NBA, people followed the trend after he wore it. Generations later, you can still see players like Ja Morant wearing those same sleeves.

5. His tattoos

This isn’t to say that no one in the NBA had tattoos before Iverson. However, he was the first player in the league to really be tatted up. In a time when we saw tons of rappers with a similar aesthetic, he viewed this type of art as a form of expression. The All-Star athlete helped make that look acceptable in the NBA, and nowadays, there aren’t many athletes without tattoos. Better yet, those players aren’t presumed to be a threat or illiterate. Iverson helped change such perceptions.

6. His fashion on and off the court

From his durags to baggy jeans and sneakers, Iverson seldom, if ever, wore business casual attire. This was a stark difference from the generation before him — including stars like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley — that came up with a different understanding of what it meant to look professional. Iverson looked to buck that trend and go for the style he felt was more authentic to who he was. However, it wasn’t embraced by then-league commissioner David Stern. The business executive’s concern was about the optics of players not seeming like the affluent professionals they were. He instituted the dress code in the NBA in October 2005, requiring players to wear business casual attire to and from games and when injured on the bench.

7. Perfecting the crossover dribble

Iverson didn’t create the crossover dribble, but he popularized it like nobody else. It was an event when he matched up with a defender. He’s one of the first players fans can remember watching and looking to see if he would break a defender’s ankles. Most famously, the decorated athlete crossed Jordan during his rookie season in 1996 and made the shot. But as you can see above, the bag was deep.

8. His outfit while accepting the 2001 NBA League MVP

As mentioned earlier, Hip Hop fashion was synonymous with Iverson. In some ways, it was never more apparent than in 2001 when he won his NBA league Most Valuable Player award. In his press conference, he wore a bandana along with diamond studded earrings to accent it. He was true to form; even in a setting in which players would normally dawn a suit, Iverson remained authentic to himself.

9. His speech

Another part of what made the famed player unique was how he verbally and physically expressed himself. His speech and slang helped bring a lot of Black culture to the league. But also, how he spoke from the heart and showed his vulnerability was something Black people resonated with, too. Since A.I., Few have showcased such a blend of passion and vulnerability.

10. His jewelry

It’s no secret that Black people appreciate jewelry. In the NBA, during the early 2000s, bling was the thing. Most NBA players flossed, but the cameras were constantly on Iverson since he was such a premier talent. He was never without a little shine off the court. It was aspirational for a lot of fans who hoped to make it to a place in life where they could afford such things.

11. Being on the cover of the first 2K video games

Debuting on the Sega Dreamcast in 1999, Iverson was the franchise’s first cover athlete. In fact, he was on the cover of the first few 2K iterations. Being a cover athlete for a video game meant you were at the top of your craft during that period. To be on multiple covers of a new franchise showed immense trust in Iverson’s ability and brand. It allowed fans to feel like him, if only for just a few minutes while playing the game.

12. His deal with Reebok

So much about bringing Black culture to the league has roots in the Georgetown University alum’s fashion. Reebok had success with their Shaquille O’Neal sneaker deal, so once Shaq moved on, they signed Iverson. The brand played off his moniker, “The Answer,” and their first collab sneaker was called “The Question.” The versions after were different iterations of “The Answer.” Sneakerheads and young sports fans had to have these kicks.

13. Jersey culture

His impact on jersey culture was second to none. From being in music videos to wearing other teams’ jerseys off the floor, Iverson set a trend. He even was at the center of the Philadelphia 76ers rebrand as they began tinkering with totally new colorways in black, red and white with a blue alternate. The team put faith in Iverson for their rebranding because they knew that he would inspire people to buy the uniforms. To this day, that era will always be remembered as Iverson’s best years in Philly.