June 04, 2015
Author Ken Babb's new book on Allen Iverson came out this week, and to say it paints a damning picture of the former Sixer would be an understatement.
Among other revelations -- including Iverson allegedly verbally and physically abusing his wife Tawanna to the point he threatened to have her killed -- is one involving the famous "practice" rant. In the book, "Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson," Babb has quotes from members of the Sixers staff, including then-coach Larry Brown and former president Pat Croce, and others claiming that Iverson was drunk during the 2002 press conference.
The rant, which came four days after the Sixers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Celtics, was during a meeting with reporters that came at the behest of then-GM Billy King. Previously, Brown had told the media that none of his players were untouchable, presumably extending that to cover Iverson, who had recently shown up late for a meeting with his coach.
But when Iverson asked Brown if he was on the trading block, according to the book, Brown said no.
After his talk with Brown, Iverson left with a friend and returned later for the news conference. "I assumed he went and fooled around somewhere," Brown said, tipping his hand up like a bottle, the author wrote in the book.
Before the news conference, King said he could tell that something was off about Iverson, but "if we thought that he was drinking or whatever, we'd have never done it."
Wrote Babb: "Some were entertained, and others watched the train wreck unfold, knowing from experience that Iverson was drunk."
King tried to think of a way to stop the press conference, the book said, while Croce, watching on television, said he suspected Iverson was drunk and asked his wife to shut off the TV.
John Smallwood, a Daily News columnist who was in attendance, was also quoted as saying: "He was lit. If he had been sober, he would have been able to get himself out of that. He never would've gone down that path. Maybe you had to have been around him all the time to know the difference, but we all knew." [ESPN.com]
In 2013, Iverson told reporters that the genesis of the rant was not practice at all, but a combination of two bigger issues he was dealing with:
“They had no idea my best friend has just got killed. The press conference wasn’t about practice, it was about me being (possibly) traded from Philadelphia. Nobody ever talked about that, never heard why I was upset or what the conference was about.” [NJ.com]
Now, according to the book, it seems there was something else at work. And had it not been for the other revelations in the book, it wouldn't be a stretch to think the stress of those two events drove Iverson to show up to the press conference intoxicated.
For more on just what those are, I suggest checking out Drew Magary's story on Deadspin, in which he offers the following synopsis of the book: "If you’re a big Iverson fan, you’ll read it and then probably then wish that you hadn’t."
Magary also outlines the almost depressing picture of Iverson that Babb paints in his book:
• Iverson once threatened his wife, Tawanna, that he would pay a man $5,000 to have her killed.
• Iverson also told Tawanna that he would pay someone a million dollars to testify in divorce court that they had an affair with her. (Side note: His price scale for nefarious deeds strikes me as poorly thought out)
• Tawanna has also accused Allen of numerous instances of spousal abuse, including stepping on her bare foot and grinding his boot heel into it, and punching her in the back while laughing out loud. “That’s a kidney shot,” he told her.
• Iverson was an absentee father who once left his young kids alone in a hotel room for a whole night to go get hammered. He also once told one of his sons, “You ain’t no real nigga. You a white boy, you preppy, you rich boy.”
• Iverson was and perhaps still is an incorrigible drunk. He showed up to his infamous “PRACTICE?!” press conference shitfaced.
• Iverson never bothered to work out as a pro and sometimes ate four hot dogs in a row before taking the court. (Actually, I kind of like him for this.) [deadspin.com]
All of this comes on the heels of the recent Showtime documentary, "IVERSON."
And if you're interested in reading Babb's book, which you probably are after reading some of those details, you can order it on Amazon, here.