Here’s a full transcript of Allen Iverson’s infamous “practice” rant from May 7th of 2002. The only thing most people know about the rant is he says “practice” 20 times and it’s been the butt of many jokes and memes over the years. What the casual sports fan doesn’t know, is how emotional and serious the press conference became when he started talking about his daughter and best friend, Rahsaan Langeford, who was murdered earlier in the season.
Iverson: “It’s starting right now, Michael let’s go!”
Reporter: “Overall, Allen, tell up how the year ended for you as a team”?
Iverson: “We lost man. It ain’t a whole bunch to that. Simple as that, we lost.
Reporter: “What did you talk about in coach Brown’s office?”
Iverson: “Everything, you know, just me and him, you know, just let him know that I’m the pit bull in his yard and if anyone tries to intrude, I’ll be the first one to bite and protect his home, you know, the same thing I’ve been saying from day one.
Reporter: “Were you upset about the comments he made publicly last Saturday?”
Iverson: “No question about it. That’s what happens when you lose though, you know. When you lose, there is a whole bunch of room for negativity and I don’t feed into this stuff and I do not do any talking. I don’t run my mouth. If coach has any issues with me, I believe there are things that I can control, things that I can get a grip on but this is what happens when you lose, you know one year you go to the finals and the next year you’re out in the first round. That’s what happened, you know, everybody take shots at Allen Iverson. It’s just unfortunate that I can’t punch back.”
Reporter: “Are you on the same page with Brown?”
Iverson: “Yeah we’re one the same page. I don’t have a problem with coach. I love Larry Brown. You people may not believe it or feel me when I say it but I do.
He’s helped me do so much in my career, helped me be the player that I am. If there’s no Larry Brown, then there’s no MVP, Allen Iverson. He’s done a lot for me as far as helping me on and off the court but I mean when you lose, this is the type of [expletive] that happens.
This is what goes on when you lose, you know. When you win everything is everything. But when you lose, it’s all about Allen Iverson and Larry Brown. When we win, I know that I get the praise and Larry Brown gets the praise but when we lose it’s on me and Larry Brown. That’s something that I have to learn to accept and deal with.
Y’all wonder why I don’t say that I’m the franchise player…I don’t feel like I’m the franchise player because look as this press conference. I mean look at what we’re talking about. That’s why I say I’m not the franchise player. I feel like I’m the best player out here…the best player in the world. Franchise players don’t go through this. Franchise player’s daughters don’t have to go to school and hear “is your daddy coming back?” What’s going on with your daddy and Coach Brown and yadayada?
She’s seven years old and that’s what she has to deal with. It hurts because I know that I’m better than that. I do all I can for this city, this team, this franchise, and my teammates. I don’t think nobody in the world plays harder than me. For me, going through this is tough. I’m tired you know, everybody in Philadelphia know, all y’all know that I want to be here. Ain’t no secret. Everybody knows that I want to be a Sixer for the rest of my career. But I’m tired and I’m hurt too.
Reporter: “Could you clear about your practicing habits since we can’t see you practice?”
Iverson: “If Coach tells you that I missed practice, then that’s that. I may have missed one practice this year but if somebody says he missed one practice of all the practices this year, then that’s enough to get a whole lot started. I told Coach Brown that you don’t have to give the people of Philadelphia a reason to think about trading me or anything like that. If you trade somebody, you trade them to make the team better…simple as that. I’m cool with that. I’m all about that. The people in Philadelphia deserve to have a winner. It’s simple as that. It goes further than that.
Reporter: “So you and coach Brown got caught up on Saturday about practice?”
Iverson: “If I can’t practice, I can’t practice. It is as simple as that. It ain’t about that at all. It’s easy to sum it up if you’re just talking about practice. We’re sitting here, and I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we’re talking about practice. I mean listen, we’re sitting here talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, but we’re talking about practice. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game last it’s my last but we’re talking about practice man. How silly is that?
Now I know that I’m supposed to lead by example and all that but I’m not shoving that aside like it don’t mean anything. I know it’s important, I honestly do but we’re talking about practice. We’re talking about practice man. (laughter from the media crowd) We’re talking about practice. We’re talking about practice. We’re not talking about the game. We’re talking about practice. When you come to the arena, and you see me play, you’ve seen me play right, you’ve seen me give everything I’ve got, but we’re talking about practice right now. (more laughter)
Reporter: “But it’s an issue that your coach continues to raise?”
Iverson: “Hey I hear you, it’s funny to me to, hey it’s strange to me too but we’re talking about practice man, we’re not even talking about the game, when it actually matters, we’re talking about practice.”
Reporter: “Is it possible that if you practiced, not you but you would make your teammates better?”
Iverson: “How in the hell can I make my teammates better by practicing?
Reporter: “So they can be used to playing with you.”
Iverson: “They should be used to playing with me. Those are my teammates. So my game is going to deteriorate because I’m not practicing with my teammates? Is my game is going to get worse? I’m asking you, is my game going to get worse? So what about my game? Is my game going to get better because other players are hurt on my team, I mean, do that hurt me? Do you think that hurts me? I’m being honest, people are hurt on my team but do that hurt me? Does that hurt me when I go out there and play 48 minutes, does that hurt me as a player? Does that hurt me if this person is hurt or that person is hurt? Do it hurt me?
Reporter: “You don’t need it as much as they do.”
Iverson: “What do you mean by I don’t need it as much?”
Reporter: “Because you’re the superstar”
Iverson: “What do you mean I’m the superstar?”
Reporter: “Because you’re better than they are. One of the best in the NBA.”
Iverson: “So why are we talking about trade talk or there’s a problem with me? No, I’m not obviously I’m not. You’re contradicting yourself man. If I’m the superstar, then why is all this happening?” Why does my daughter have to deal with this? Why? I’m the franchise player. Why am I supposed to be having this meeting? Why am I talking to y’all about this?
Reporter: “You said that you and coach are on the same page but it does not sound like it?”
Iverson: “We are on the same page. We are. I’m upset because of one reason…we are in here. I lost my best friend, I lost this year (in the playoffs), I feel that everything is going downhill for me as far as my life.
I don’t want to deal with this man, I don’t want to go through this [expletive] man. This is where I want to be. I love this place, I love my teammates, I don’t have any problems with Coach Brown at all. Coach Brown has problems with me as far as lifting…I do not know about this thing with practice because I have not been missing any practices.
I don’t have any problems with Larry Brown, this organization at all. I just don’t want to go through this. That’s my only problem. I don’t want to go through this. I don’t want to lose and all summer have to go through this right here. Why? I don’t feel that it’s right. I lost. I lost. I mean me, my coaching staff, my teammates, this organization lost. You don’t hear about any one of my teammates going through this. It’s me. It’s just me. I have to deal with it. And now it ain’t about me and Coach Brown. It’s about him. It’s about Allen Iverson. The ball is in his corner.
I read the article and my friends and people tell me things but it’s all on me. I accept it but the [expletive] hurts. But it’s not just about me. Yeah I got some [expletive] I need to get better in but everybody does. But you don’t talk about everyone else, you just talk about me. And why because I make money?
Reporter: “Because you’re the MVP”
Iverson: “What does that mean? I’m the MVP and I have to worry about trade talk. I’m the MVP, the MVP of this league. I mean, the best basketball players in the world, and I was honored with the MVP. The best basketball player in the world…and this is what I have to go through when I lose. I can’t win them all. I’m human. I am just like you. You might be a little better than me in your eyes or from the people that love you but you’re human just like me, right? You are no different. You bleed just like I bleed, you cry just like I cry, you hurt just like I hurt. But I am Allen Iverson, I get paid to play basketball.
Reporter: “But that’s why you’re different because you play ball?”
Iverson: “I’m not different than you. You get paid to talk [expletive] on the microphone, don’t you? You get paid to do your job.”
Reporter: “You want to trade salaries?”
Iverson: “You get paid to do your job. I am nowhere near you criticizing you about how to do your job because I’m not. You’re human, you do what you do, that’s your job. I’m not here to critique you on what you do. I don’t like the way he pronounced that word or this, that and the third. I don’t do that to you.
Reporter: “But you acknowledge that being criticized is part of your job?”
Iverson: “I am going to criticized automatically. I don’t have a choice.”
Reporter: “Why do you think it’s only just practice?”
Iverson: “I did not say that.. I’m saying that’s why we are in here having this talk because of practice”
Reporter: “But don’t you think great players and MVP’s make their teammates better…
Iverson: “But that’s what I am the MVP but it has nothing to do with practice.”
Reporter: “Guys we need to move on…
Iverson: “I ain’t going nowhere…let him talk. I am upset about being here having this conversation, that’s it. From me being here, that’s it. I am not upset with you or no of y’all here right now. That’s your job. I am just upset because I am here. That’s it
Reporter: “There was a quote in a newspaper attributed to you that has you saying: ‘I’m gone’. What are your thoughts?”
Iverson: “Listen, you know me man, you’ve known be for six years. You know me, do you think I want to leave here?”
Reporter: “”I saw the quote…”
Iverson: “I’m asking you a question…”
Reporter: “No I don’t think you do”
Iverson: “That’s that. It ain’t a whole bunch to that man. You’re not hearing it from nobody else.
Reporter: “Do you think you’ll be back?”
Iverson: “Hell yeah I’m coming back.”
Reporter: “Did you ask your coach if you could come back?
Iverson: “Did I ask him…I have to ask my coach if I can come back?”
Reporter: “As opposed to being traded?”
Iverson: “I ain’t going nowhere. Larry Brown ain’t going nowhere.
Reporter: “Did coach tell you that?”
Reporter: “Both things?”
Reporter: “How come you didn’t meet with him on break-up day?”
Iverson: “Because I didn’t?”
Reporter: “What are some of the things you can do during the summer that can help you?”
Iverson: “I’m going to come back and be the biggest, strongest bodybuilder in the world. That will make me the best player in the world. If I come back next year and look like Arnold Schwartzneggar, will y’all give me the MVP automatically? Please do that. If I come back and be huge and big, y’all will give me the award.
Reporter: “You have to earn it.”
Iverson: “Why not? I’ve earned the MVP small as hell. Y’all tell me what y’all want me to do?
Reporter: “May I respond to that?”
Reporter: “There are people that have suggested, myself included, that instead of shooting 40 percent, you…
Iverson: “What do you know about basketball? Have you ever played?”
Iverson: “I don’t know Phil, I don’t know you as a basketball player. I know you as a columnist but I have never heard of you as a player though.
Reporter: “Why is that an issue?”
Iverson: “Why is that an issue? Because we’re talking about basketball.”
Reporter: “Let me ask my question.”
Iverson: “Go ahead, Phillip.”
Reporter: “Supposed you shot 44 percent…”
Iverson: “I don’t know about that. That is in God’s hands. I do not know if that will help me or not. That’s God. God does that, It ain’t up to you to say if Allen Iverson does this then he’ll do that. That’s up to God. It ain’t up to anyone in here. That is up to God. He handles that.
Reporter: “You have control over your body?”
Iverson: “God has more control over it than I do. You know that. God has more control over your body. I do not care about how much you eat, how many weights you lift or how good you eat, if God says you’re gone, you’re gone.
Reporter: “I think you have confused two issues”
Iverson: “I’ve confused two issues, OK I’m sorry.”
Reporter: “Why are you hurt about this trade issue?”
Iverson: “I’m hurt because it is an issue. It has nothing to do with going to the finals or nothing like that. I’m hurt because I’m hurt. All of the rest of the soldiers that went to war with me on the court this year are enjoying their summer.
But look at me. Look at what I’m going through. I have to listen to Phil talk to me about this [expletive]. For what, it’s summertime. I’m supposed to be with my family, chillin. But this is my life. This is what I have to go through.
I know that I don’t do everything right. I do a lot of [expletive] that ain’t right. I know I do. I am just like y’all though. I am just like you. I might be better or I might not be but I am human just like you. Once you figure that out, that will make you a better person.
People talk about what’s going to make me a better ball player but once you figure out people are human just like you, then that will help you out. I’m trying to get better you need to also. I am no different. I cry like y’all, I bleed like y’all just like y’all. But I’m Allen Iverson and I am sitting back here and y’all are sitting back there. That’s the only difference.
Reporter: “Some people are saying that you’re name keeps coming up in the trade rumors because you’re the only valuable commodity this teams has?”
Iverson: “Why would you get rid of the valued commodity? You called me the MVP, the world called me the MVP, why are you talking about getting rid of the MVP?
To make the team better, well if it’s to make the team better, then I’m cool with it. I am going to win wherever I go. I do not care about where I go, I am going to win. You talk about making my teammates better…I am going to win no matter where I go.
It is like they named me the MVP, that’s what I am. I have been in this league for six years now and I’ve felt that I have been the MVP for six years. It is not about Allen Iverson though. I am going to take all the punches though but it is not just about me.
All of you that have a heart know what it is all about. You just have to ask the right questions. That’s your job. You have to do your job. That’s my main right there but he can’t take up for me all the time. He has to do his job. Even where he says something [expletive] about me, he still has to do his job.
But believe me, it is just not about Allen Iverson. I am going to go to war for Philadelphia. Every time that ball goes up, I will go to war and fight. I am going to do some [expletive] that’s wrong and I will do some things right. I can’t do everything right all the time. Michael Jordan is the great player in the world. He did not do everything right all of the time but he tried and gave it his effort. That’s all you can ask for.
Reporter: “Why do you love Larry Brown?”
Iverson: “Him, as a man, I love Larry Brown. The coach, that’s something totally different. But him, the man, that’s what I care about.
Reporter: “Do you like him as a coach?”
Iverson: “Yeah, I like him as a coach. How many times do I have to tell y’all? He’s the best. I told y’all, I’ve said this, I can’t say this enough. I’ve never met another coach better than Brown. That don’t have nothing to you with why I’m in here now.”
Reporter: “What can you do different next year?”
Iverson: “I don’t know. All I can do is live. That’s all I can do. I am going to have to deal with this all summer. I don’t have a problem with Larry Brown. That’s my man but with this [expletive] here, we are not as tight as I though we were.
I do not talk to y’all about Larry Brown. The [expletive] that hurt me was when y’all asked him about me, there should have been no comment. If you going to get rid of Allen Iverson, then get rid of Allen Iverson.
Do not assassinate his character, just get rid of him. Simple as that. If Allen Iverson leaves Philadelphia, it is to make the team better. Why should I have a problem with that? The fans shouldn’t have a problem with it. Why? Because you’re doing it to make the team better. That’s why you are making the move. But to assassinate his character, to say we’re trading him because he does not show up to practice, he is late, etc…
Reporter: “Is it possible that Coach Brown is trying to motivate you?”
Iverson: “How are you going to motivate me? I just want to win man. I’ve been in the league six years, I have no title and a bunch of individual awards that don’t mean nothing. Scoring titles, all-star games, that don’t mean nothing. Yeah, I can tell my son that I was an all-star back in such-an-such but I never won a championship. That’s all I care about. I have no selfish bone in my body. I’ve been first team all-NBA…all that means is that you are one of the five best players in the world. All I want to do is win.
Reporter: “Do you think this is finally over and do you think it will come up again?”
Iverson: “I hope that it is. But It ain’t really about me. I am selfish to the fact that my daughter has to go through it. My daughter is 7-years-old. Ask yourself, if your daughter had to listen to people talk bad about that daddy or mother all the time, how would you feel, honestly? If you have kids, I know y’all understand. This is what my daughter goes through at school. She comes home and says her teacher said daddy don’t leave. Daddy, the girl in my class says you’re getting traded. All for a game, a [expletive] game.
A lot of y’all can’t put your feet in my shoes because you can’t handle it. But just try to stick your feet in my shoes. It does not have to be a damn day, just try for a minute and try to deal with what I do in my life. My best friend is dead and we lost. And this is what I have to go through for the rest of the summer until the season is all over again. This is what I got to go through…this is my life in a nutshell. Now y’all come home and live your lovely life, live it up and live your life to the fullest.