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Have We Been Laughing At Allen Iverson’s “Practice” Rant For All The Wrong Reasons?

Submitted by on June 4, 2015 – 2:08 pmNo Comment

Back in 2002, Allen Iverson held a press conference with Philadelphia reporters that ended up going down in history. During the press conference, the 76ers point guard was asked about his practice habits. Or more specifically, he was asked why he reportedly skipped so many practices that season. The practice-related questions did not sit well with AI, and he responded to them by going off and saying the words, “We’re talking about practice,” more than 20 times in just a few minutes. It was replayed over and over and over again on ESPN that day and, over time, it has become one of the most infamous press conference moments ever. You can relive it here:

Were we all laughing at it for the wrong reasons, though? There’s a good chance that we were. Journalist Kent Babb just released a new book called Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson that details some of the low points of AI’s career. And in his book, Babb notes that AI was likely drunk during his “practice” press conference. He spoke with AI’s former coach Larry Brown as well as AI’s former general manager Billy King, and both of them seemed to confirm that AI had gone to a bar before the press conference, gotten drunk, and then held court with reporters.

“I assumed he went and fooled around somewhere,” Brown told Babb, insinuating that AI had gone and had a few drinks before the press conference.

King said that he, for one, wouldn’t have allowed the press conference to take place if he knew AI had been drinking. But once he realized it, it was too late. King reportedly thought about trying to stop the press conference, but he couldn’t think of a way to do it without revealing that AI was drunk. So he let it go on, and it turned into one of the most surreal moments of AI’s career.

If this does turn out to be true, it would make a whole lot of sense. AI’s behavior that day did seem bizarre. But it would also mean that we’ve all been poking fun at a clip that shows a man at his worst. And really, there’s nothing funny about that, is there?

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