This weekend marks the 20-year anniversary of one of the most infamous rants in sports history – Allen Iverson’s “Practice? You’re talking about practice?” Back on May 7, 2002, Iverson took part in press conference a few days after the Boston Celtics eliminated Iverson’s Philadelphia 76ers from the playoffs. A reporter questioned AI’s work ethic and that set him off.
“I’m supposed to be the franchise player and we’re in here talking about practice. Listen, we’re talking about practice. Not a game… We’re talking about practice. Not the game that I go out and die for… and play every game like it’s my last. We’re talking about practice. How silly is that?”
Iverson said the word practice 22 times in just over two minutes. He did not sound angry; he sounded frustrated. Iverson appeared offended when he was accused of either not attending or not participating in workouts.
Many people misinterpreted Iverson’s words and the 76ers star’s reputation suffered as a result. I replayed the interview on YouTube and realized that I, too, fell victim to the misinterpretation. Iverson told reporters he understood the importance of being a leader and setting the example. He wanted reporters to focus on his efforts on the court in real games… “when it really matters.”
Revisiting Iverson’s rant sent me down a rabbit hole for other infamous sports rants. They include former Jets Head Coach Herm Edwards dramatically saying “We play to win the game” when referring to his losing team. Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Mora had a rant similar to AI’s when he said, “Playoffs? We’d be lucky to win a game!”
Oklahoma State football Head Coach Mike Gundy came to his players’ defense when the media questioned the team’s talent. Gundy accused the media of kicking teens when they were down.
“COME AFTER ME! I’M A MAN! I’M 40! I’M NOT A KID! WRITE SOMETHING ABOUT ME!”
Classic. What makes these rants so great is that they are honest. They are from the heart. Coaches and athletes usually give boring, uninteresting interviews full of sports cliches. Every once in a while, we witness a gem of a rant. Allen Iverson’s rant is an all-time great… and AI’s words will be quoted beyond its 20-year anniversary.