Allen Iverson, the Philadelphia 76ers guard who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame Friday night, is remembered for a few things, including his mean crossover and a 2002 press conference where he was asked by a reporter about his “practice habits.” In his memorable response, Iverson repeated the word “practice” nearly two dozen times.
Iverson will be joined Friday in the Hall of Fame with NBA and Olympians Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes, along with many others.
In case you don’t remember — or want to again watch — his “practice” answer, watch it here:
Here are some other things you should know about The Answer’s answer:
1. Iverson’s Response Came After Speculation that he was being Traded
Iverson had trouble seeing eye-to-eye with Sixers coach Larry Brown. So much so that in 2002, the season after Philadelphia lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, trade rumors cropped up again because Brown said Iverson wouldn’t listen to him.
One day, Iverson arrived to the arena 10 minutes before tip-off, which infuriated Brown, according to Bleacher Report:
“Either you go, or I go,” Brown told Iverson that day.
The relationship spilled out into the media, with Brown telling the press Iverson didn’t have proper practice habits.
“I told Coach Brown that you don’t have to give the people of Philadelphia a reason to think about trading me or anything like that,” Iverson said in his pre-rant. “If you trade somebody, you trade them to make the team better…simple as that. I’m cool with that. I’m all about that.”
2. Was Iverson Drunk? Reports Say Coach Brown Thought So
The author of Iverson biography, “Not A Game,” Kent Babb, said last year that Sixers GM Billy King, Brown and Iverson got into an altercation before Iverson answered the media’s question about his practice habits. According to Babb, Brown said The Answer disappeared for a while and may have went to a bar:
During that same stretch of time, Uproxx notes, Iverson had just lost a close friend and was in the middle of some legal issues with his then-wife, Tawanna.
3. Iverson Said ‘Practice’ 22 Times. Read the Entire Transcript Here:
When a reporter asked, “Could you be clear about your practicing habits since we can’t see you practice?,” Iverson responded:
“Anybody tell you that I missed practice… If, If, if a Coach say I missed practice, and y’all hear it, then that’s that. I mean, I might have missed one practice this year but if, if somebody say, ‘He doesn’t come to practice,’ it could be one practice. Out of all the practices this year, that’s enough… that’s enough to get a whole lot started. I told Coach Brown that you don’t have to give the people of Philadelphia a reason to think about trading me or anything like that. If you trade somebody, you trade them to make the team better…simple as that. I’m cool with that. I’m all about that. The people in Philadelphia deserve to have a winner. It’s simple as that. It goes further than that…”
Reporter: “So you and coach Brown got caught up on Saturday about practice?”
Iverson: “If I can’t practice, I can’t practice man. If I’m hurt, I’m hurt. I mean… simple as that. It ain’t about that… I mean it’s… It’s not about that… At all. You know what I’m saying I mean… But it’s…it’s easy … to, to talk about… It’s easy to sum it up when you’re just talking about practice. We’re sitting in here, and I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean, listen, we’re talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talking about practice. Not a game. Not, not… Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game, but we’re talking about practice, man. I mean, how silly is that? And we talking about practice. I know I supposed to be there. I know I’m supposed to lead by example… I know that… And I’m not.. I’m not shoving it aside, you know, like it don’t mean anything. I know it’s important, I do. I honestly do… But we’re talking about practice man. What are we talking about? Practice? We’re talking about practice, man. We’re talking about practice. We’re talking about practice. We ain’t talking about the game. We’re talking about practice, man. When you come to the arena, and you see me play, you see me play don’t you? You’ve seen me give everything I’ve got, right? But we’re talking about practice right now. We talking about pr…”
Reporter (interrupting): “But it’s an issue that your coach continues to raise?”
Iverson: “Man look, I hear you… it’s funny to me too, I mean it’s strange… it’s strange to me too, but we’re talking about practice man, we’re not even talking about the game… the actual game, when it matters… We’re talking about practice.”
4. Reebok Gave the Rant its Own Shoe, Called the Question Mid ‘Practice’
Reebok launched its Question Mid Practice shoe earlier this year, 14 years after the rant and on the 20th anniversary of teaming up with Iverson.
With baseball stitching (Iverson was wearing a Boston Red Sox hat that day) and Iverson’s rant on the insoles, the shoes started selling at $129.99, according to the Washington Post.
5. ‘You Think I can be the MVP without practicing?’ Iverson Asks 14 Years Later
As expected, Iverson still gets asked about his rant all these years later. After a charity basketball hosted by Iverson, a reporter asked if Iverson still felt the same way about practice.
“Obviously you didn’t get it,” Iverson responded. “Obviously you didn’t get it when I explained it, man. I thought I cleared that up. I didn’t think I’d ever get that question again. See, you might have not seen the documentary, so I’ll give you that. I’m just gonna hope you didn’t see it. You just heard me say I was the MVP. That’s the best player in the whole world. You think I can be the MVP without practicing? That’d be a bad motherf*cker.”
“I still get teased about it this many years later,” Iverson said in an interview on Hall of Fame day: