Iverson credited his mother for helping him become the first Philadelphia 76er to be named the league's top rookie Thursday. ``I wouldn't be anywhere near the NBA without my mom. She gave me the heart I have now.''
Iverson said the award represents a triumph over critics in the media who acknowledged his talent but complained about everything from his perceived selfishness to his choice of friends.
``I think I got a bad shake this year,'' he said. ``I got the short end of the stick.''
Iverson's 23.5 points-per-game average led all rookies and was sixth in the league overall. He also ranked seventh overall in steals (157), eighth in minutes (40.1 per game), 11th in assists (567) and 13th in 3-point baskets (155).
But the voting was close. Iverson received 44 of a possible 115 votes. Minnesota's Stephon Marbury was second with 35 and Vancouver's Shareef Abdur-Rahim was third with 25 votes.
``He'll step back on you or go to the hole and dunk on you,'' Cleveland's Donny Marshall said of Iverson. ``He's the most explosive 6-foot guard you've ever seen. Ever.''