Allen Iverson isn't done.
Yes, he's sitting in a hotel suite in Atlanta animatedly discussing his career — like the time a teammate pulled a gun on him (jokingly) after practice, and the exact moment he realized he couldn't stay out all night and play well the next day — in late April, when he'd ordinarily be preparing for the NBA playoffs. He'll turn 37 in June, his MVP season is more than a decade behind him, he hasn't been on an NBA roster since he left the Sixers in February of 2010. The easy thing to do would be sit back and watch that Hall of Fame clock tick down.
But doing the easy thing has never been Iverson's way. So less than a week after this interview he was off to China for an exhibition tour, then, who knows? His agent, Gary Moore, has plans. "I either want him to go back over in June and do another tour, or hopefully a team over there may offer him the opportunity to come over there and play, a year’s contract over there. And even better than that, maybe a team in the NBA will offer him an opportunity to come in, play in the summer league, sign on with a team."
There's no doubt Iverson looks like he can still play — he's still whip-thin under his usual triple-XL gear. But for now he seems content to look back rather than ahead. Reebok is re-issuing his classic red-toe Question (May 25th, $125), and both he and Reebok VP Todd Krinsky have stories to tell.
You remember what it was like lacing up shoes with your name and number on it for the first time?
Actually, yeah. When I first got these [holds up the Questions], I think it was a preseason game, because I didn’t start off in these—
Krinsky: We didn’t have them right away—
Yeah, you started in some inline stuff.
I remember that. It was one of those things, like, Let’s hurry up and get out here so people can see them, see that I really had my own shoe. You look at guys on the court, man. You got this guy with this brand of shoe, and this guy with this brand — they’re just wearing the shoe. But it’s a whole different feeling when you got a shoe on and it’s yours. I remember one of the best moments too, obviously when they were in stores, when you started seeing the college teams wear them and high school teams. That was it for me. All I ever wanted to do was wear Jordans, I think there was only one or two pair I never had. So it was crazy. And, you know, all the shoes I’ve had, the first time you look at them you’re satisfied—even though you know you’re not [laughs], but you’re satisfied because this is your new shoe. Then, after a while, I would tell them, “we need to change this. We need to change that.” Or, “add this, add that.” But the first one, soon as you see it, you’re like yeah. But then I let my friends see it; “Naw, Chuck, you need to change this, put that here, this color, that color.”
It’s a whole different feeling when you got a shoe on and it’s yours.
I think this time, one thing that’s important to me that I think we didn’t go right, we went wrong, with this shoe is we didn’t make it appeal to women. Like only shoe that they really wore was this one right here [points at red Question], this color. You do this shoe in pink, that’ll be incredible. I mean, every woman will want it. Even back then I was surprised to see women wearing this shoe; I thought they only wore Jordans when it comes to basketball shoes [laughs]. But yeah, different colors for women: pink, purple, anything.
Is this the shoe you get asked about the most?
Yeah, the red-and-white Question.
Just so many people, man, ask, “When are you coming back with the Questions, man?” I’m like, “Listen, man.” I mean, I was in Charlotte, I was at a Friday’s, and a guy called his brother and told him I was up there. “Man, my brother love you.” Man, he brought a pair up to the restaurant for me to sign that he had never worn. Like, he had never worn them. They were brand-new.
I feel like the biggest moment you had in the shoe, or still the one people talk about the most, is that Jordan game.
[Krinsky puts video on in background: Zumoff’s voice “Iverson and Jordan. The crowd is in to it. Allen shakes. Yes! Two!”] Everybody talks about it… They were the blue ones. Everybody talks about that one when they first meet me. “Man, I still remember the play you shook Jordan.” Everybody gonna always remember it because it was Jordan. And, you know, Mike’s probably been shook before — somebody probably got him before — but right there, at the top of the key like that, with everybody watching.
And I think it’s because you caught him, he came back and you got him again.
The only reason I did it the second time is because I seen how hard he bit when I wasn’t even doing a move, I was setting a move up. I said, “oh, he’s biting hard.”
What did your teammates say about that first shoe?
Man, my teammates used to destrrrroy me my first year about these shoes. Like, after every game — I promise you — my whole sock would be red, bloody, from this [toe] part of the shoe. I called Todd and said, “You’ve got to do something about these shoes, man [laughs]. I’m bleeding every game.” I mean, they’re sitting there joking the hell out of me — “you got that contract, but they got you payin’ for it [laughs]. You gonna earn that damn money.”
Krinsky: [Laughing] Who was saying that? Weatherspoon? Coleman?
Man, DC [Derrick Coleman], Mark Davis — I mean, they used to kill me — Lucious Harris.
Do you still watch a lot of NBA games?
Is it tough?
Yeah, yeah. I mean especially when I know I can do what I do. I know I can play. Am I as quick and as fast as I was 15 years ago? Who is? I think the hardest time I’m having with it is being healthy like this. I ain’t never been to where don’t nothing hurt, don’t nothing bother me. I wish there was a season where I was playing and didn’t have no aches, no pains, no bruises, no nothing. Just feeling like this right now, I would love the opportunity to do it.