I’m not even sure how to recap Allen Iverson’s retirement press conference, so I’m just going to do it as a stream of consciousness. That seems to work best for AI, and maybe it will serve me well, too.
I tweeted this earlier and I’ll say it again: Allen Iverson should have his own podcast. Consider this my official offer to host it. I’ll pay for all the professional studio equipment and we’ll do it right, me and Allen.
As the years have passed, you forget just how introspective AI is. There may not be a lesser educated smart man in the world. Not unlike Mike Tyson, who lacks the grammatical wherewithal needed to properly address the people to whom he speaks, AI, on the surface, doesn’t sound smart, but he’s obviously, quite clearly, highly intelligent, perceptive and aware of things in this world that most people wouldn’t even recognize. At times he displays an unhealthy level of narcissism, but it’s hard to blame a guy for that sort of thing when you’re watching his fake retirement press conference in an arena.
The whole thing was about an hour long. It kicked off with Joshua Harris, in his suit, standing behind a table which served as a de facto podium for Iverson, his kids and manager, Gary Moore. Harris looked as out of place as he usually looks at basketball events. The dais was straight-up street (and I don’t mean for that to be offensive— rather, a term to describe the realness of the honored guests), while Harris was every bit the man who had just parachuted down from atop Mt. Apollo (that’s almost not even hyperbole).
Harris, who probably wishes that his guest of honor would show up every night to fill seats and add to the spectacle that may be the worst team in the history of the NBA, talked about how he was always in awe watching AI play. I’m not certain of this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the first time was about four minutes prior to the event on an assistant’s iPad 2.
They really should’ve let Pat Croce play owner for the day just to be the ringleader of an event that sorely needed a ringleader that wasn’t the impossibly awkward and toolish billionaire who, earlier this year, installed a steel wall in front of his Hamptons beach mansion much to the chagrin of his neighbors.
Moore spoke next. He spent about five minutes introducing his client and saying all the things a good manager slash agent should and would say at such an event, even going as far as to say that Iverson could be a CEO one day. Sure. Why not?
The buildup was… kind of annoying. But eventually, Moore handed the one microphone on the table down to Iverson (if there’s one thing the Sixers are good at, it’s awkward press conference setups, and this was no different). He became emotional, though not teary, almost immediately, talking about how he always felt this would be a “tragic” day, him retiring from the NBA, but that the time is right and he is happy with his decision to finally hang it up… three and a half years since last playing in the the league.
Iverson thanked just about everyone he could— his coaches – Thompson, Brown, the high school one and all the ones he’s ever had – God, Michael Jordan, his mom, the streets, teammates (for setting screens, playing hard and allowing him to become a household name), the fans, the trainers, the doctors, and, most importantly, his kids.
Oh, and also the media.
And in giving that final thanks for bestowing him these feasts, AI showed why he is so beloved: “Speaking of media, I wish Phil Jasner could be here today, especially on a day like this. Rest in peace. I know he’s looking down on this whole event, thinking about the times we laughed with each other and thinking about the times that we fought with each other. But he was very inspirational in my career and he meant a lot to me.”
Only AI would go out of his way at his retirement press conference to thank a dead beloved beat writer, and not because it was something that made the fans feel good, but because it was something he meant. Allen Iverson truly wanted to thank Phil Jasner today. That’s awesome.
PR man Mike Preston then popped out to inform the crowd about the wireless microphones while arena staff looked on from across the, for some reason, fully lit court:
The first question came from John Clark. Iverson said he knows him. I know him too, Allen. Let’s be friends.
The next came from someone from RapStation.com, who asked Iverson about being the cornrows to Doc’s afro. I love the NBA.
Next there was an awkward exchange with Dei Lynam, from Comcast SportsNet. Iverson knows her, too: “I know your voice.”
Dei repeated herself: Dei Lynam, from Comcast SportsNet.
Thanks Dei, our viewing audience now knows you, too.
The press conference reached a point where Iverson wasn’t so much speaking as he was preaching. That’s about the only way you could describe it. It was his sermon, and we were honored to be there or be tuned-in online. Really. It was great. His views went well beyond himself and the court: “Don’t nobody want to talk about my work with the Boys & Girls Club. Don’t nobody want to talk about how many turkeys I give out at Thanksgiving. Don’t nobody want to talk about the things I do for homeless people and things like that. But a negative Allen Iverson story… you open up your newspaper and see what this is about. That’s how this world is. You don’t want to hear nothing about somebody saving some kid from a burning building, you just want to hear about what’s going on with bin Laden. That’s just how the world is. And I understand that, I realize it, and accept it for what it is. And I roll with it. You only live once, and life is short. I’m gonna be happy with mine.”
That’s, um, a brilliant quote. The last part of that belongs painted on walls, and I’m not joking.
There were lighter moments, too. Iverson was asked if he kept in shape these last three years in case he got a call from an NBA team: “No.”
He even talked about how cornrows weren’t the norm in his day, how they were a thug thing. But, to point out how they’re more accepted today: “Now you see the police officers with cornrows.”
He said he has no regrets. But if there’s one, he would’ve got on 76 at 4 p.m. instead of 5 for home games.
Finally, Iverson was asked about which player was his biggest influence in his career. Here’s where Iverson started to crack: “Aaron McKie.”
He repeated the words several times. The final time, he forced them through his quivering lips as CSN – quite outstandingly – cut to McKie watching on a monitor in the studio. Suddenly, the observer became the observed, and it was the best live moment I’ve seen on CSN since the 2011 Phillies season. Iverson was thanking his mentor, quite emotionally, while his mentor looked on, sort of stunned.
That moment was real. And it was awesome.
The press conference, too, was real. And it was also ridiculous. And it was also funny. And highly entertaining. And gripping. And whatever else you can say about a staged event in which the topics ranged from cornrows to life lessons to family to love and basketball.
It’s hard to explain. But it was fascinating to watch. I could listen to AI all day. He would make a great podcaster.
That’s why you loved A.I. He kept it real. No B.S. He played with a LOT of heart. He may have been 6 ft. physically but he was at least 7 ft. tall in heart. You can’t compare too many players today who had his passion and desire to win.
You spelled “except” wrong in AI’s brilliant quote.
That’s how AI woulda spelt it
I thought it was hard to listen to . And is he retiring or can he just not play anymore so he didn’t know when to quit. Wonder if he got money for any of this today.
Just seemed stupid to me. Hasn’t he been retired? Stupid
Get off his fuckin dick Kyle. He’s a basketball player
I always love it when a spoiled, pampered white kid calls black people “uneducated” and talks about how “street” things are. Makes me want to punch the next white guy I see in the head.
Kyle – if you don’t understand how stunningly racist saying those types of things are….I don’t know what to tell ya.
I would not use the word educated to describe Allen, does that make me a racist too? Kyle wasn’t talking about the streets, Allen was.
Stop whining like a bitch.
Iverson’s grammar is horrible. He’s gotten in more trouble in his life than any of us could imagine. I don’t think anyone would tell you he’s well educated, or ever cared about it. What I said was don’t let his poor grammar, thug look and history fool you, he’s a a smart guy. I was paying him a compliment. It has nothing to do with race. Jeez.
Ah. The classic racist retort. “He’s TOTALLY smart even though he doesn’t speak like me, doesn’t look like me, isn’t as educated as me”. But he’s SOOOOOO street smart. Like I said…I don’t know what to tell ya.
Dude no one is making it up that Iverson got in a ton of trouble, was a child of the streets and talks like he never read so much as a magazine. Those are… actual things. I’m not making assumptions. By all accounts – and there are many – Iverson isn’t educated and admits that he’s from the streets, leading to an assumption that he’s probably not a bright dude. If he was a white dude from a trailer with a wife beater who couldn’t form a sentence but provided the sorts of observations AI did I would say the same things. In fact, I think I did say the same thing about Jayson Werth at some point. Sounds dumb, looks dumb, but isn’t dumb. You’re trying to find the race card when the race card isn’t there, just because Iverson happens to be black. I also didn’t say he was “street smart.” I said he’s smart and:
“… but he’s obviously, quite clearly, highly intelligent, perceptive and aware of things in this world that most people wouldn’t even recognize.”
I don’t think I could’ve been any more complimentary of his intellect based on a basketball player press conference without being absurd. Just because he’s black, doesn’t absolve him from fairly simple observations.
You know faux Kyle is keeping this comment in his bank
Watch the AI 30 for 30 special. Dude can ball but is not too bright
Sonny, are you race baiting in the living room?
And this one, I actually LoL’d. I used to listen to Sonny Hill as a kid doing paper routes, I try to listen to him these days on my way to Sunday morning hockey, but I never know what he’s talking about.
Does it now? I thought you only used guns…
By punching the next white guy you see in the head because another white guy said something that pissed you off would actually be a hate crime. Nothing worse than a person too stupid to understand race never makes a person “that guy” you want to punch in the head unless you are a racist yourself. This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black and you need to point into a mirror some and reassess your own biases before you go pointing at others for their (preconceived by you) biases. You are a hypocrite and need to know it. Your mother has spoken, now go clean your room son.
He didn’t play defense and was a
Selfish player. He COULD have won a championship
Yeah kyle you’re a scrawny little white bitch.
his 18 yr old daughter is looking good
Anyone notice Ann Iverson’s obese son.
He showed more heart in that press conference than Bynum has in his entire career.
Will always be my second favorite Sixer! Still remember the step over Tyronn Lue in the ’01 Finals like it was yesterday.
Eskin had the nerve to ask AI if he regretted anything after hinting the topics of PRACTICE, games, etc. He responded by saying that he did not regret anything. What a dick. I wonder if Eskin regretted sending flowers to that woman who posed as a 25 year old hottie who was killed by her husband.
Actually, the correct spelling is “accept” in that context.
Go Sixers! What a win!
$20 says ‘Sonny Hill’ is a fat white kid trolling.
More like a fat funky frustrated 40yr old white male because most young guys never heard of Sonny Hill.
The bit with Aaron McKie — incredible.
Great win by our team our town our 76ERS!!
Who knew Michael Carter Williams was a taller version of Rajon Rondo with a better jumpshot.
“There may not be a lesser educated smart man in the world. Not unlike Mike Tyson, who lacks the grammatical wherewithal needed to properly address the people to whom he speaks, AI, on the surface, doesn’t sound smart, but he’s obviously, quite clearly, highly intelligent, perceptive and aware of things in this world that most people wouldn’t even recognize.”- I you really understood how condescending and presumtuous that reads you would understand that just because a person doesn’t speak “the queen’s english” it does not mean they lack intelligence. This is the problem with much of white america. They are in no moral, intellectual or social position to do so. Don’t break your arm patting youself on your back, Kyle. You’re not racist, just incredibly and classically ignorant.
Great press conference. That was as real and as genuine as it gets right there. And to all the self-hating white people and uptight blacks on here talking shit and taking offense to Kyle’s observations, go fuck yourselves. You’re the fucking racists. Keep up the good work, Kyle.
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