Ten years ago today, Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson held a famous news conference. What he talked about with the media is still discussed today. Do Iverson's comments hold up 10 years later? Let's analyze.
“We're sitting here, and I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we're talking about practice.”
Here Iverson is saying that he is sitting, that he is supposedly the franchise player, and that everyone is 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.”
Now Iverson reiterates his claim that practice is being talked about. He also makes the point that a game is not being talked about, only practice.
“Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it's my last, but we're talking about practice man.”
Using a more extreme term – “die” – Iverson underscores that the game is not being discussed. He again stresses that everyone is talking about practice.
“How silly is that?”
Iverson asks how silly this is, presumably in reference to talk of practice dominating that of the game.
“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.
Here Iverson changes the focus of the discussion to leadership. He states that he knows he is supposed to lead by example and realizes that responsibility holds some import.
“I know it's important, I honestly do, but we're talking about practice.”
Now Iverson pivots again to his original thesis, that practice is being talked about, while referencing back to his contention that leading by example is important.
“We're talking about practice man.”
Iverson states that practice is the topic of discussion.
"We're talking about practice.”
Again Iverson states that practice is the topic of discussion, as a means of reminding listeners of what’s being talked about.
“We're talking about practice.”
Iverson’s method of repetition is likely employed to make clear the topic which is being discussed.
“We're not talking about the game.”
Now Iverson reminds the audience of one topic that is not being talked about, among others.
“We're talking about practice.”
And, after alluding to the game again and how the game is not being talked about, Iverson returns to his main point: “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.”
Here Iverson briefly moves on to another subject in what is most likely a reference to “the game” – how before witnesses he has given everything he’s got at the arena – before returning to his primary talking point: practice is what is currently being discussed.
“Hey I hear you, it's funny to me too, 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.”
Iverson concludes the main portion of his historic rant by noting laughter from the crowd and then masterfully calls back two of his primary points: the game is not being talked about; practice is.
So how does the Iverson news conference hold up over time? Ten years removed, do we have a clearer idea of what he was talking about? Was it practice? Was it the game? Was it practice and the game? Was he using practice and/or the game as a metaphor for something else? We may never know. And it's that mystery that still today captivates so many.