For anyone who’s sat on the press side of a podium at a press conference, you know how rarely a notable moment comes out. Mostly you hope the player or coach isn’t completely devoid of anything quotable. The pure candor of a Russell Westbrook moment of this weekend doesn’t come along often, regardless if the media likes it or not. But today is a special day because it’s the decade anniversary of the best press conference. Ever.
Say it with me: “Practice.”
Allen Iverson‘s seminal press conference from May 7, 2001, came after the Celtics bounced Philly in the first round, 3-2. AI and coach Larry Brown were grinding against each other like unoiled gears all year and dropping “practice” 20 times was the classic result.
It’s not all about “practice” though, looking through the handy transcript SI.com posted 10 years ago. We all remember practice, but how many remember AI admitting he told Brown “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”? There are numerous moments like this in the script that alternately show a dude defiant, proud, beaten down and wistful.
A personal favorite is this existential sequence between a reporter and AI, referring to practice and why it wasn’t pointless in the journalist’s point of view:
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.”
Now, Iverson will be remembered as a point guard, not a philosopher, and he never claimed to have the answer even when he was, you know, The Answer. The tone of the whole conference, though, was perfect. He never blew up on anybody, just took the criticism and dished it back. He was a man defeated in several ways by the end. But check out his last sentence of the press conference and tell me those aren’t words to live by.
Iverson: 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 [expletive] 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.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Iverson’s speech even coined a cottage industry of press conference jokesters jumping on the moment — including Pistons GM Joe Dumars to Iverson himself.
Aaron Rodgers, too.
Is this the best press conference ever?
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