LeBron James Calls Allen Iverson The Best Pound-for-Pound Player Ever

King James gives props to AI, “The Floyd Mayweather” of basketball.

In ESPN the Magazine’s recent cover story on LeBron James, the NBA’s reigning MVP acknowledged that, while Michael Jordan was his favorite player growing up (as well as the greatest of all time), Allen Iverson ran a close second:

“I watch Jordan more than anybody, for sure. But I’ll watch tapes of AI too,” James told Chris Broussard. “I don’t take anything from AI. Well, I do – his will. They say he was six feet, but AI was like 5’10.5″. Do we even want to say 160? 170? Do we even want to give him that much weight? And he played like a 6’8″ 2-guard. He was one of the greatest finishers we’ve ever seen. You could never question his heart. Ever. He gave it his all. AI was like my second favorite player growing up, after MJ.”

When Ben Detrick profiled Allen Iverson for Maxim three years ago, we described the pint-sized star in much the same terms, calling him “one of the most important athletes of our time.”

In a follow-up interview yesterday, James expanded on Iverson’s greatness. “Pound-for-pound, probably the greatest player who ever played,” said James. “He reminds me of Floyd Mayweather,” he continued, comparing to another recent Maxim subject. “You could never question [Iverson’s] heart, his will to want to win. A true warrior.”

James’ teammate Dwyane Wade agreed. “One of my favorite players obviously of all time. Michael Jordan, Kobe, T-Mac, and A.I.,” said Wade. “Those were the ones that I looked up to coming up. I take pride in wearing No. 3 because A.I. wore No. 3.”

Iverson will officially retire as a Philadelphia 76er in a pregame ceremony ahead of his former team’s Wednesday night face-off against the Heat.

“Philly is his home and should always be his home,” said James of his hero. “I’m happy for him. He was great for the league.