It was like any other day in our newsroom.
I was hanging out in our news director Tom Stathakes office when someone came in and said that Allen Iverson was holding a press conference within the hour outside the Sixers locker room, which is located a level below our Wells Fargo Center newsroom.
Four days earlier the Sixers had been eliminated from the NBA playoffs and Iverson had yet to speak to reporters since the humiliating 33-point loss to the Celtics. Stathakes without missing a beat told me, Why dont you ask him why he doesnt show up at practice.
So that is the origin of the now infamous practice press conference, which was 10 years ago on Monday. I was the person who initiated the practice questioning to Iverson. Remarkably the press conference and the 24 references by Iverson to the word practice remains one of the most memorable pressers in sports history. How many times have you seen people mock Iversons practice rant? Heck Larry Brown did it two weeks ago when he was named Head Coach at SMU.
The press conference lasted 31 minutes and for a good 25 minutes Iverson was combative, heartfelt, honest and pure A.I., which made for great television. We carried the press conference live on Comcast SportsNet during Daily News Live and into Sportsnite. After a few minutes addressing the season and the loss to the Celtics, my question about Allens practice habits stirred the pot. We had an exchange back and forth and before you knew it, the 15 or so reporters in attendance started digging further into practice. Iverson was a year removed from being named league MVP and leading the 76ers to the NBA finals, and he felt he didnt need to answer questions about his practice habits because of what he brought to the games. No argument there but I do believe that Allen had the ability to make his teammates better and set a better example for his teammates.
It never happened.
The A.I era moved on without a championship and I can only image how many times Iverson has been asked or heard someone say practice? It didnt define his career but it will forever be part of the Allen Iverson mystique, which was tumultuous just like the press conference.