Damian Lillard Admires Allen Iverson: Sees Reflection of His Neighborhood in NBA Icon

Overcoming adversity, two NBA stars share a unique bond.

by Faizan Chaudhary
Damian Lillard Admires Allen Iverson: Sees Reflection of His Neighborhood in NBA Icon
© Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Allen Iverson may not hold the title of the greatest basketball player in history, but his legacy as the NBA's most influential cultural figure is unrivaled. Iverson, a pioneering force, intertwined the worlds of basketball and hip-hop culture with his unique fashion sense and style, leaving an indelible mark on the league that persists to this day.

The resonance of Iverson's influence was recently highlighted by Milwaukee Bucks' star guard, Damian Lillard, during an appearance on Trae Young's 'From the Point' podcast. Lillard, an icon in his own right, expressed his admiration for Iverson, affectionately known as "The Answer," citing a deep personal connection to the basketball legend's background and demeanor.

"Iverson was the one star who truly resonated with me," Lillard shared. "His presence reminded me so much of the figures from my own neighborhood — the tattoos, the braids, the oversized earrings and shirts. He had a certain authenticity and swagger that I saw in myself and those around me."

From Grit to Greatness

Lillard's upbringing in East Oakland's Brookfield, a neighborhood notorious for its challenges, mirrors the gritty realities Iverson faced.

Both athletes, despite their relatively modest stature, shattered stereotypes and expectations on their path to NBA stardom. Iverson's journey, marked by his MVP triumph in 2001, served as a beacon of hope and inspiration for Lillard, who saw in Iverson a reflection of his own aspirations.

While Lillard admired Iverson's fearless approach to the game, his own playing style evolved differently. Known for his sharpshooting rather than aggressive drives to the basket, Lillard drew inspiration from guards like Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis, and Nick Van Exel, among others.

These players, renowned for their quick pull-up jumpers and agility, helped shape Lillard's dynamic play on the court. Today, Damian Lillard's journey from the streets of East Oakland to NBA prominence is a testament to his resilience and talent.

With numerous accolades to his name, including a spot among the NBA's 75 greatest players and over 20,000 career points, Lillard's legacy continues to grow. Now with the Milwaukee Bucks, he seeks to achieve what his childhood idol, Iverson, and other influences never did: clinching an NBA championship title.

Damian Lillard