After AI was selected to be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame yesterday, Comcast SportsNet reporter Neil Hartman—the reporter who first asked AI about not practicing with the 76ers during that 2002 press conference—told AI that he was responsible for jumpstarting the practice narrative that day. And Iverson responded by telling him that he reacted the way that he did to it because he was under the impression that the press conference was going to be about squashing the trade rumors surrounding him at the time and not, well, practice.
“I thought the press conference was going to be happy,” he said. “All I thought I was doing was coming and telling Philadelphia that I wasn’t going anywhere.”
He then looked at Hartman and added, “Now I can blame you.”
AI was clearly joking, but he went on to say that he regrets the way that his “practice?!” press conference played out. According to him, his kids still tease him about it, and random people on the street will stop him to say “practice?!” too.
“It makes me so mad,” he said. “I’m a Hall of Famer, and I can go outside today and go to a restaurant or wherever and somebody will come up to me and say, ‘PRACTICE? We talkin’ ‘bout practice?!’ Man, I am a Hall of Famer, and that’s all you can think about?”
AI has a point. It is kind of crazy that that’s one of the things people associate with him most. But hey, it could be worse. At least the Internet hasn’t turned him into the next MJ and run wild with this, right?