Everyone knew Allen Iverson’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech would be memorable and emotional, but somehow it still surpassed expectations. Captivating the Springfield, Mass., crowd with his sincerity and engaging personality, Iverson thanked an exhaustive catalog of friends, teammates, coaches, and family members.
You can watch Iverson’s full speech on NBA.com here.
Iverson discussed his early days in Newport News, Va., where in high school he thought he was “the best football player in the world.”
When he was a teenager, Allen Iverson thought he'd be inducted into a much different Hall of Fame. pic.twitter.com/HibpBgkKBL— ESPN (@espn) September 10, 2016
He said Georgetown coach John Thompson saved his life. Iverson was being heavily recruited for both football and basketball, but he lost almost all offers from colleges after he was involved in a bowling alley brawl. Thompson gave him a chance.
"I want to thank coach (John) Thompson ... for saving my life." -Allen Iverson pic.twitter.com/Qlt6A0Zi0C— USA TODAY Sports NBA (@usatodaynba) September 10, 2016
The Answer also gave significant credit to Philadelphia 76ers coach Larry Brown, with whom he had an at-times-tumultuous relationship when he was a player. Iverson said Brown made him into a star and helped him mature.
Iverson shouted out many former and current players, including Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, and—inevitably—Tyronn Lue.
You knew it was coming. https://t.co/9C2J1mvLnO— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 10, 2016
He paid special attention, however, to Michael Jordan, whom Iverson idolized. "He gave me the vision, man," Iverson said.
He said the first time he played against His Airness, it was like he was looking at an otherworldly being. He couldn’t believe Jordan was really right there in front of him.
Allen Iverson meeting Michael Jordan for the first time pic.twitter.com/iQ4fY36fNk— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 10, 2016
Particularly popular on Twitter was Iverson’s nod to the musicians he listened to during his career: Biggie, Redman, Jadakiss, Tupac, and Michael Jackson. He also shouted out Dipset.
Allen Iverson thanked Biggie, Jadakiss, and Jim Jones during his Hall of Fame speech. I will fight for him forever.— Brian Josephs (@Bklyn_Rock) September 10, 2016
DIPSET SHOUTOUT AT THE HALL OF FAME OMG THIS IS THE BEST SPEECH I'VE EVER HEARD THANK YOU ALLEN IVERSON— maurice (@tallmaurice) September 10, 2016
Iverson’s most genuinely emotional moments seemed to come when he thanked his family—each of his five children, one by one, and then his ex-wife, Tawanna Turner, with whom he has had a complicated relationship. The two seem to be on very good terms, and Iverson said he hopes to grow old with Turner and is thankful for how she has made him a better man.
The speech ended in true Iverson fashion: with him thanking his haters. It was a classic move for the iconic, 6-foot guard who was known for putting his hand behind his ear to taunt opposing crowds, "I can't hear you."
This was a beautiful, true-to-form speech. Never change, A.I. Time to hit the nearest TGI Friday's.
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