Coming in hot!
Raven Johnson is making history as the first girl to play in Allen Iverson’s classic game, Blavity reports.
Raven Johnson is the No. 1 high school basketball point guard in the nation. She led the Westlake High School to the state championships in Georgia and was named the 2020-2021 MaxPreps national player of the year. She has also been recruited to the University of South Carolina’s basketball team.
Every year NBA icon, Allen Iverson, holds an all-boys basketball All-American Classic game. Following the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, Iverson and Classic organizers wanted to honor their legacy, inviting a top women’s player to integrate the game. Diamond Johnson, a Philadelphia native, was first asked to represent the women in the 2020 all-star game, which was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year, Johnson got the call with a direct message from Iverson himself.
“I was crying. I was like, ‘Wow, me?’ When they said, ‘Yes, you,’ I was like, ‘Wow, I get to make history and represent for the girls…It means a lot that I get to represent for the girls. Just putting out there that girls should get the same publicity as boys,” Johnson said.
At the Classic Game in Memphis, Tennessee, Johnson showed up and showed out. She participated in the scrimmage alongside 29 of the country’s best boy basketball players and former NBA stars, Bonzi Wells and Rasheed Wallace.
When she was introduced on the court, the crowd gave her a standing ovation.
Stephen Jackson, former NBA player and Johnson’s coach for the Iverson Classic, spoke about the significance of her presence on the team, saying, “Where we’re going with women’s basketball, what Kobe was trying to do, kind of continue to keep that legacy going. And by having her here, it’s a big step.”
After playing with Johnson, Tennessee signee Brandon Huntley-Hatfield echoed his sentiments, saying, “I felt like she belonged out there. She controlled the pace of the game. It was really good; hats off to her. It’s good to see that women can do whatever men do.”
Iverson praised Johnson for her historic accomplishment in Memphis.
“These are the best of the best [players] right here. That’s that mamba mentality that everybody talks about. They want it, but only a select few got it. [Johnson] got it, just for [her] heart and to come in here and do this,” he said.
Jackson said his goal is to continue to motivate the 18-year-old and remind her why she’s there in the first place.
“The good thing about Raven, she’s already confident in her ability, whether she’s a girl [or] boy. She’s confident in her ability to play the game, and that’s why she’s here. My job is to continue to keep her confident, to continue to let her know she’s here because she’s good and not because she’s a girl,” Jackson said.
Congratulations, Raven! Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of @theofficialai3/Instagram