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Allen Iverson is the league poster boy that the NBA has always feared. Imagewise, Iverson is a disaster for hoops purists. He talks a lot of smack, wears his hair funny, and argues with his coach. Old fogies like the Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon delight in using Iverson’s personal missteps as examples of all that is wrong with basketball today. But the pundits can’t deny what any Sixers fan already knows: Nobody in the game today plays with more heart than Iverson. To be sure, his propensity for coming down the court and trying to dunk on an entire team is mind-numbing. But Iverson also plays defense with intimidating fanaticism and runs the court as if he had a power pack strapped to his back. Oh yeah, and Iverson is the most prolific scorer in the game. After Anfernee Hardaway experienced Iverson in last year’s playoffs, the former Magic guard asserted that he couldn’t be expected to shoot and guard Iverson in the same game. Grant Hill may be prettier, and Kobe Bryant may speak Italian fluently, but the baddest man in basketball today will be giving hell to the hapless Wizards at 7 p.m. at the MCI Center, 7th & F Sts. NW. $19-$325. (202) 432-7328. (Ta-Nehisi Coates)