On Friday night, Dime got a chance to visit the Barclays Center for Brooklyn’s home opener against Miami. The good people at Reebok invited us to their suite for the release of the Reebok Q96 and Pumpspective Omni and a chance to play a little ball on Barclay’s herringbone parquet court after the game. Little did we know we’d get Allen Iverson to open up about his feelings and his critics.
Iverson is still a huge draw, and he spoke with a number of different outlets before we got in the mix. Sway was in the suite for MTV; Brooklyn emcee Fabolous and Jadakiss were in the area, posing for photos. At one point, ESPN’s Doris Burke came up to the suite for an in-game interview where I accidentally ended up in the live footage ESPN shot during the game:
I somehow ended up in the middle of AI's interview w/ Doris. The blonde bro is me. Weird. pic.twitter.com/e1tVQjroKN
— Spencer Lund (@countcenci) November 2, 2013
After a number of different people asked Iverson questions about his favorites: favorite player that never made an All-Star team (“John Salmons“); favorite colorway (“Red and white because they’re the original, they’re the first ones”); favorite place to watch street ball (“New York. Rucker.”), we finally got into the scrum.
But first, before we relay what he told us, we have to preface this and steer away from the editorial “we.” I am a huge fan of Iverson, like most people geeked about basketball around my age. Since Iverson’s appearance was a surprise, with only a few people knowing beforehand that he was going to be in the suite, I hadn’t prepared any questions. After realizing I’d get a chance for some answers from The Answer, I raked my brain for stuff to ask him that wasn’t the same drivel from other media outlets.
Then someone asked AI: If you had any advice for a young player in the League right now, what would it be?
Allen Iverson: Same thing I would tell anybody, whether it’s somebody coming into the League, somebody that’s playing pick-up basketball, somebody that’s playing Pop Warner: Play hard. You can’t miss with that. And that’s another thing about the fans in Phillyâ€”they never gave a damn about if Allen played well some nights or whatever. We know he’s gonna give everything he got. Regardless if he miss every shot, regardless of if he has 20 turnoversâ€”we know he’s trying to win. That’s what it’s about in anything. Just giving all you got. That’s the only thing you can ask for from somebody that’s doing anything. S**t, if you’re talking to a girl, give all you got. All your best lines, use ’em. Don’t save ’em! Use ’em. In anything you do, any story you write, make it your best one. Make it to whereas you feel like it’s your last one. God might not open your eyes the next day.
That was the question where my anxiety about talking to him evaporated. Since I was probably never going to get a chance to talk with him again, I decided to ask the one question I always end interviews with, and the one which is almost never answered. I had a hunch Iverson would be different and the question would finally allow him to get some stuff off his chest he wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to talk about.
Click page 2 to hear Iverson open up to Dime about all the criticism lobbed his way over the years.
Iverson told all the assembled reporters, “In anything you do, any story you write, make it your best one…God might not open your eyes the next day.” I followed his advice and asked my first question like it might be my last.
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Dime: What’s the one question you’ve always wanted people to ask you, but no one ever does?
Allen Iverson: Damn, that’s a great question.
Dime: Well you just said to give it your best shot.
AI: See how good you’re getting it, as you’re going on â€” God damn.
Dime: Like if there’s something you always wanted to talk about, but no one ever asked you about it?
AI: I would ask me: From the perception that we make you out to be, as far as rumors and things we hear, does it hurt? And my answer would be, ‘Yes, it does.’ Especially when it’s not the truth. I look at the situation and as long as a person don’t call me a rapist or a child molester or a racist, I’m like, Aright. As long as you don’t call me that, then I won’t defend myself. I’ll let it go as long as you don’t call me that. But a lot of other things that people say that’s not true â€” they hurt. The s**t hurt. People think that I’m some tough, renegade, black-hearted-being, evil, no-feeling-having mothaf**ka, but that ain’t me. I think some media outlets and some people know that about me. They know it gets to me. They know it bothers me, so I think that’s why they do it. But I’m human just like everybody else. I’ve got feelings just like everybody else. When motherf**kers write s**t about me that’s not true, damn right it hurts. It hurts even more knowing my kids are old enough to know what it is now. That’s what I would ask myself. I would love to answer that question so people could know thatâ€”that Allen Iverson really does have feelings.
Dime: That’s gonna be the title of my piece, by the way: ‘Allen Iverson has feelings.’
AI: [laughs] For real. He really does, have feelings.
Dime: Do you think that not responding to [the criticism] has made it worse? Or do you think that that’s the only way to deal with it?
AI: OK, that’s another great question. I want to, at times, but the satisfaction of answering it and responding to it does everything that the person that wrote it or reported on it wants. You’re doing just what they want you to do. And I mean, my ex-wife, my mom, my aunts, my uncles, my friends, they’re like, ‘Man, respond to this s**t!’ They’re reporting this and they’re reporting that, and I be wanting to do it so bad, but I feel like that’ll just keep it going and keep it going. Then I respond, then they say something else, then they want me to respond again, then I respond, then it keeps going on and on.
Dime: When did you figure it out, to ignore those rumors?
AI: I didn’t figure it out. I think with me, I would’ve been did it â€” responded â€” but the people that love me, I take their advice. I know that if I respond to everything, that it’ll keep going on. It’ll be just like, somebody will keep doing it because they know they’re gonna get a response from me. So my whole thing is, if you love me, then love me. If you don’t, then believe what you hear and run with that, because even if you love me, or if you don’t love me, you ain’t gonna love me no more for responding to the s**t. You don’t love me anyway, so what difference does it make? Why am I trying to prove anything to you?
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Never has AI summed up his on-court game and off-court demeanor so perfectly. If you ever get an opportunity like I did this past weekend, pretend like you’re Allen Iverson and just give everything you got. Like AI taught me on Friday, you gotta leave it all on the court because “God might not open your eyes the next day.”
What do you think?
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