In Kent Babb’s revealing new biography of Allen Iverson, he gets into the famous 2002 press conference in which “AI” repeated the phrase “we’re talking about practice” 22 times. According to the book, 76ers coaches and executives believed Iverson was drunk.
After his talk with [coach Larry] 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, [GM Billy] 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 [team president Pat] 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.
If anything emerges from Babb’s reporting, it’s that Iverson’s alcohol problems were—and still are—worse than anyone realized. Below, our piece from yesterday on the surprising and unpleasant side of Iverson revealed by the book.