I know yesterday was the anniversary, but if I recall correctly, 12-year-old Levin was still too distraught over the Round One loss to the Boston Celtics to watch any sports that day anyway. (72 points from Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker? Come on.) So today we will celebrate the ten years since Allen Iverson said those infamous words. We talkin' bout practice, man.
Now I'm not going to dissect each of these beautiful words (ESPN did it), and I'm not going to count the number of times "practice" is said (CBS did), and I'm not the one who asked the initial question, so I've got none of that first person insight that Neil Hartman does. What made this the best was that Allen simply didn't get it.
He was absolutely BAFFLED by the idea of practice. He just could not comprehend any way in which practicing would help his game. Not only his game, but his teammates' games. He just did not get it. And then the reporters in the room can no longer hold their giggles, and it only fuels him. This isn't a planned attack from somebody like Shaq or Terrell Owens. And this isn't a post-game frustration moment like Denny Green, Herm Edwards, or Jim Mora.
Call him a thug, but don't use this as an example. This isn't malice or agenda. This is a guy who just didn't get it. It was his manifesto. Not only is it the most quoted sports-related line of all time, but it follows around his career like a big hilarious asterisk. People who aren't basketball fans know this press conference. My girlfriend, my nephew since he was 3, my mom nearly has it memorized. That sort of candid ignorance from the reigning MVP just doesn't come around ever. It's like the Jerry Maguire epiphany and the Donovan McNabb overtime tie thing and the George Bush immediate book-reading response to 9/11 all rolled into one cornrowed 5'10 guard on a podium with a hell of a mouth.
Iverson, I've contended, is the single most unique basketball player of all time. That doesn't make him the best, or really anywhere near the best. There were as many flaws in his game as there were strengths. And that only added to how individual of a player he was. The cherry on top is this very rant, ten years ago, when everybody in the world knew what we were talkin' 'bout.