On May 7, 2002, Allen Iverson held one of the greatest press conferences of all-time. At the time, Iverson was a 26-year-old star one season removed from winning the NBA MVP Award. He was an established star for the Philadelphia 76ers and had just finished an outstanding individual season. But after the team's first-round playoff exit, he was fed up with the fact that he had to talk about practice.
When the Sixers lost their first-round series to the Boston Celtics 3-2, head coach Larry Brown criticized his star player for missing practices. Obviously the media jumped in and asked Iverson about Brown's comments. It's safe to say he was not a fan.
Thus ensued one of the great NBA rants of all-time, the full version of which is below, but we'll start the video where it gets good:
This entire rant should have its own section in the Basketball Hall of Fame. They need to take up a collection to build a new wing. Here's the full transcript of the practice section:
""If a coach say I missed practice, and y'all hear it, then that's that. I might've missed one practice this year. But if somebody says, 'He doesn't come to practice -- it can be one practice, out of all the practices this year -- then that's enough. ... But it's easy to talk about, it's easy to sum it up when you just talk about practice. We sittin' in here, I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talkin' about practice. I mean listen, we talkin' 'bout practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game. We talkin' about practice. Not a game, not a, not a, not the game that I go out there and die for, and play every game like it's my last. Not the game. We talkin' bout practice, man. I mean how silly is that? We talkin' bout practice. I know I'm supposed to be there, I know I'm supposed to lead by example. I know that, and I'm not shovin' it aside, you know, like it don't mean anything. I know it's important, I do. I honestly do. "But we talkin' bout practice, man. What are we talkin' about? Practice? We talkin' about practice, man. [Reporters laughing] We talk -- we talkin' bout practice. We talkin' bout practice! We ain't talkin' bout the game, we talkin' bout practice, man. When you come into the arena, and you see me play, you see me play, don't you? You see me give everything I got, right? But we talkin' bout practice right now. [Reporter: 'But it's an issue that your coach raised.'] We talkin' bout practice. Man look, I hear you, it's funny to me too. I mean, it's strange, it's strange to me too. But we talkin' bout practice, man. We not even talkin' bout the game, the actual game, when it matters. We talkin' bout practice.""
Sports talk radio was all over that rant and it has become legendary. Anytime anyone mentions the word "practice" it's hard not to respond with, "we talkin' 'bout practice, man."
Even LeBron James had some fun with it in 2014:
Iverson finished the 2001-02 season averaging a then-career-high of 31.4 points per game. He added 4.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game. But his shooting percentage had dropped to 39.8 percent and he only hit 29.1 percent of his 3-pointers. Still, he was an MVP contender and Brown was unwise to take a shot at him in the media.
Iverson's rant was one of those rare sports moments that live on forever. It's been 18 years and we're still talking about it. I guarantee we'll still be having fun with it for another 18.