PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Some call Allen Iverson "A.I." Others refer to him as "Bubba Chuck." He's known as "The Little Kid," and, of course, "The Answer."
Add "MVP" to the list.
Iverson was honored by the league Tuesday after leading the Philadelphia 76ers to the best record in the East and their best season in 16 years.
"I didn't give up when a lot of people I've seen in my life gave up," Iverson said. "I owed it to myself, my fans, my family and friends."
Iverson got 1,121 points to beat out San Antonio's Tim Duncan (706 points). Los Angeles' Shaquille O'Neal, last season's MVP, had 578 points from the panel of sportswriters and broadcasters in the United States and Canada.
The award caps an amazing turnaround for Iverson, who was nearly traded last summer because of his contentious relationship with coach Larry Brown.
But Iverson promised to change his ways before training camp opened and lived up to it, taking over as team captain, playing unselfishly and becoming a leader on the court.
"He's not only the best player on the team, he's become a great teammate," Brown said. "I'm like a proud father watching him develop and the way he plays and to recognize the heart he has...
"I think the student taught the teacher a lot about life and I'm grateful for that. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to coach Allen and I never thought I'd say that."
The coach and the player shared a special moment when Brown jumped into Iverson's arms and embraced him.
"I look into his eyes and he looks into mine and we see the same thing, we have the same agenda," Iverson said.
Iverson, at 6-foot and 165 pounds, is the shortest and lightest player to win the MVP award. He had 93 first-place votes out of a possible 124, to 18 for Duncan.
Iverson is the first Sixer to win the award since Moses Malone in 1982-83, the last year Philadelphia won a championship. Wilt Chamberlain and Julius Erving also won the award for the Sixers.
Joined by family, friends and several teammates at a news conference, Iverson said he wondered if he'd ever reach this point.
"I didn't know because of all the baggage I came here with," Iverson said. "I was 20 years old and people wanted me to be 30. I had no space for error."
Iverson led the league in scoring for the second time in three years, with an average of 31.1 points; was first in steals (2.51); and tied for first in minutes (42.0).
He earned MVP honors in the All-Star game after his 25-point performance led the East back from a 21-point deficit, was NBA Player of the Month for January and was Player of the Week twice.
Iverson scored 40 or more points 17 times during the regular season, including a career-high 54 against Cleveland on Jan. 6. He matched that with a scintillating performance last week in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Toronto.
"He's the same person, but a little more professional," Sixers guard Aaron McKie said.
Last year, Iverson was the only player other than O'Neal to get an MVP vote from 121 cast. O'Neal would've been the first unanimous MVP choice.
"I could hope and pray, but I could never picture it happening," Sixers president Pat Croce said about Iverson's dramatic turnaround.
In addition to Iverson, Sixers center Dikembe Mutombo won the league's Defensive Player of the Year award and McKie won the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Philadelphia is just the fifth team to get three awards in the same season. The Sixers would become the first team to win four awards if Brown gets Coach of the Year.
Before the season began, Iverson had to overcame controversy surrounding the pending release of his debut rap CD, which contains lyrics that NBA commissioner David Stern called "coarse, offensive and anti-social."
He was fined $5,000 by the NBA for shouting a derogatory remark about gays toward taunting fans in a game on Jan. 28.
"I'm still the same person, but I'm older, I'm wiser and I'm more mature," Iverson said, adding that he's focusing on winning a championship.
The Sixers and Toronto Raptors are tied 2-2 heading into Wednesday night's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
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