Allen Iverson was supposedly drunk during ‘practice’ rant
Allen Iverson’s “practice” rant is easily one of the most infamous exchanges a professional athlete has ever had with the media. And more than 10 years later, we’re getting a better idea of why Iverson may have been so testy.
Was he boozing before he took the podium?
Kent Babb of the Washington Post published an Iverson biography this week entitled “Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Fall of Allen Iverson.” In it, Babb writes that former Philadelphia 76ers coach Larry Brown suspected Iverson had been drinking before he blew up on the media.
“I assumed he went and fooled around somewhere,” Brown said, tipping his hand up like a bottle, Babb wrote in the book.
Former Sixers general manager Billy King was the one who suggested Iverson speak to the media four days after the Boston Celtics had eliminated Philly from the 2002 playoffs. Iverson had just shown up late to a meeting with Brown and had an argument with the coach over AI’s future with the team. He then left the team facility — presumably to go to a bar — and returned to talk with the press.
John Smallwood, a Daily News reporter who was at the press conference, was convinced Iverson was drunk.
“He was lit. If he had been sober, he would have been able to get himself out of that,” Smallwood was quoted in Babb’s book as saying, per ESPN.com. “He never would’ve gone down that path. Maybe you had to have been around him all the time to know the difference, but we all knew.”
Iverson said two years ago that he was dealing with the death of his best friend at the time and should have never agreed to the news conference.
“They had no idea my best friend had just got killed,” he said. “The press conference wasn’t about practice, it was about me (possibly) being traded from Philadelphia. Nobody ever talked about that, never heard why I was upset or what the conference was about.”
Iverson’s infamous rant has been spoofed more times than we can count. Apparently it may have never happened if he didn’t stop off at a bar room beforehand.