Basketball in the Philippines was all about Allen Iverson in early November, as 39-year old retired NBA superstar, came to the country for the “All In,” a charity basketball event.
The game benefited Gawad Kalinga, a charity which specializes in providing housing for disaster victims and the impoverished.
Iverson, spent 14 seasons in the NBA, playing in 914 NBA games (901 started), and holds career average of 26.7 points per game, and 6.2 assists per game, with 41.1 minutes per game.
He scored a total of 24,368 career points. He was the winner of both the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year honors. He is an 11-time All-Star, and 4-time NBA scoring champion. Iverson took his team all the way to the NBA Finals in 2001 but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. Despite never winning a championship, Iverson was rated the fifth greatest NBA shooting guard of all time by ESPN in 2008.
Though the twilight of his career did not end gracefully, Iverson still has many fans around the world who remember what he accomplished, the Philippines included.
Iverson didn’t play, but coached the team composed of Ball Up Streetball all stars against a group of young Filipino basketball players. And yet, the media was all over Iverson, who gave them some laughs, and, as always, he was dead real on everything he said.
RETIRED FULL-TIME DAD
Iverson said, speaking to the reporters, that his passion for the game is gone. He loves watching the game, he honestly misses it, but…
“I can’t watch the Sixers play because I get emotional watching them because of all them memories and knowing that I can’t help. In this stage of my life, I don’t want it no more. I don’t want anything that comes with it,” he said.
He did say what made him a great player on the court.
“It’s your confidence level. It’s about believing in yourself,” Iverson said. “It’s not cockiness, it’s not arrogance. It’s just believing in the talent that God gave you.”
“I worked hard. Playing in front of people, I wanted them to cherish the day when they saw me play. I gave it my all every night because playing the next night is never guaranteed. I lay it all on the line,” he said. “The fact that I am embraced all over the world for what I did is a good feeling.”
Today, Iverson, according to himself, loves being a full-time dad to his children.
“What keeps me busy is being a father, being there for my kids. That’s enough, and that’s a hard work with five kids,” he said. “I love just being a full-time dad, being there for my kids. I lost a lot of time with my two older kids playing in the league, traveling all the time.”
Speaking of one of his sons, Iverson said people have “no idea” how good he is.
“He is way better than I was at 16 years old. You’ll be seeing him. It is not the last of the Iversons.”
COACHING, PRACTICING, ADVISING
Considering that he came to the Philippines as a coach, Iverson was asked if he ever considers coaching, maybe a coaching position in Philadelphia. He said he wasn’t interested, jokingly adding that his team “would never practice”.
However, he did say that he would be interested in mentoring younger players.
“All I want to do is advise. The knowledge that I have, I want to be able to put it to use. I want to be able to be someone to come in and give my opinion on what can turn the franchise around. That’s what I want to do when it comes to basketball,” Iverson said.
“It’s a lot of other things, to speak to up-and-coming players and the little kids, give them my thoughts on how to try to make it in basketball. Things like that, to be able to have that voice,” Iverson explained.
“I would tell them not to put so much pressure on themselves to excel right from the beginning. To be able to let yourself grow, don’t feel like you gotta come right in and turn into a household name right from the beginning. Don’t be so hard on yourself, let it come to you.”
JORDAN, BRYANT, TOP DRAFT CLASS
In many of his interviews, Iverson openly admitted that Michael Jordan was his idol, growing up. He gave another respect nod to Jordan in the Philippines.
“Michael Jordan is the reason why I played basketball. He was my idol. If little kids look up to me, I looked up to him. I actually wanted to be like Mike,” said Iverson. “I remember walking on the court and seeing him. I saw his aura. I looked at his shoes and said , ‘Oh my God, those are real Jordans.’”
“It was like looking at my superhero but once the ball went up in the air, the competition starts,” he said. “I always said that if Michael ever guards me, I’ll try my move on him. It just so happened that it went down. I tried it and it’s legendary now.”
Speaking on Kobe Bryant, Iverson said he’s not surprised Kobe continues to play basketball at the highest level.
“His work ethic, his heart, his competitive nature – all where they’re supposed to be, so I am not surprised,” he said. “He’s one of the best to ever do it.”
When asked about the best NBA Draft Class, Iverson said his year (1996) the league had the best draft class, which featured such players as Kobe Bryant, Marcus Camby, Ray Allen, Stephon Marbury, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal and Iverson himself.
“We had the best draft class. People try to debate all the time between us and the class that had LeBron and D-Wade (Dwyane Wade) and ‘Melo (Carmelo Anthony), but no draft class was like ours,” Iverson said.
Iverson was also asked to name his Top-5 players of all time. Iverson, reluctantly, named five players, but said it was very hard.
“”I would put myself at the two-guard, but I can’t put myself in the top five because Michael Jordan is in the top five, and he is a two-guard. I exempt myself. Magic [Johnson], Mike [Jordan], LeBron [James], [Charles] Barkley, and Shaq [O’Neal],” Iverson said.
One of the reporters asked why Iverson did not include Larry Bird.
“That’s why this is so hard,” Iverson said. “You know he is supposed to be in there. I was trying to go by position. You have LeBron, who plays the three and Larry Bird, who plays three. If I had to take LeBron out and put someone else in, obviously it would be Larry Bird. I got my five. I could name another five that could be the top five too.”
Sources: BallisLife, Rappler, CSNPhilly, Yahoo SportsFollow @exnbadotcom
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