10 years of practice

 

Today marks one of the single funniest, most hilarious and probably insightful rants in all of professional sports.

Allen Iverson was not amused. A day or so after the defending Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia 76ers were rudely dismissed from the 2002 NBA playoffs by the Boston Celtics in a 120-87 mauling of a Game Five, A.I. was holding court with the media, trying to make sense of a season that didn’t add up.

You see, just a year earlier, Iverson was the league’s MVP, averaging 31 points a game and dragging a Sixers team that included such greats at Tyrone Hill, Rodney Buford, Eric Snow, George Lynch, and Todd MacCullough to the NBA Finals, stealing Game One from a powerful Lakers team that was on a record-setting playoff run at the time.

Things changed. A.I. missed a lot of the 01-02 season with injuries, as did Eric Snow, sixth man of the year Aaron McKie and others. That Sixers team was lucky to win 43 games a year after tying for the league lead with 56.

After a hard-fought series in which Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker couldn’t miss in Game Five, the Sixers were done for the summer and Iverson’s post-season press conference was rather mundane, a rarity for him. Until…

A reporter asked Iverson about Larry Brown’s complaints about certain players (read: Iverson) not going all out in practice or not practicing at all.

That was all she wrote.

“We sittin here talkin about practice. Not a game! Not a game! Not a game! But practice.”

“We not talkin about the game, the actual game, the game I go out there and die for. We talkin about PRACTICE.”

“Here I am, supposed to be the franchise player and we sittin her talkin about practice. PRACTICE?! Come on, we talkin about practice man!”

That beef with work tasks that seem unnecessary to most but are everything to some perfectly sum up Allen Iverson in an endearing way, at least from my perspective.

Here was a guy ALLEGEDLY 6-feet tall, ALLEGEDLY 165 pounds, throwing his body to and fro, driving into the land of the giants, risking his very life and limb to carry a bunch of role players past lottery status. And he did so quite often.

So when you take a pounding like Allen Iverson did, chances are you don’t feel like risking life and limb in a two hour workout with your own teammates. Selfish? Maybe. A cause for complaint? More than likely. However, to say Allen Iverson didn’t give the Sixers everything he had in first 10 years there is pretty much absurd.

Allen was Philadelphia, still is in many ways. Granted he wasn’t as graceful with the media and fans as Julius Erving or other Philly sports icons, but the fact of the matter is Philly identified with A.I. because he was the underdog, the quintessence of a city that thrived on being looked at less-than and then proving otherwise.

And 10 years later, it still holds up. People who are tired of boring meetings have felt this same way. Nothing that really matters in the actual scheme of things at your job can relate. And we can thank Allen Iverson for voicing how most of America feels.

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