Meet the Real-Life White Iversons

We asked four white guys named Allen Iverson about Post Malone's song, practice, and sharing a name with a Hall of Famer.

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complex white iverson 2

You saw Creed, right? As you may know, the actor who plays Adonis Creed in the hit 2015 film is named Michael B. Jordan. He’s famous, so when people think of Michael B. Jordan nowadays, they rarely mistakenly think of the Chicago Bulls legend dunking from the free throw line in a pair of Cement 3’s. He’s Michael B. Jordan (or “Yo, Creed!” probably). His fame—even more than the well-placed middle initial—has allowed him to escape the unfortunate coincidence of being named after a Hall of Fame basketball player.

Not everyone is Michael B. Jordan. There are definitely kids named Michael Jordan in high school right now who’ve had entire lunch rooms erupt in laughter after a Crying Jordan Snapchat filter was slapped on them. Some people, regardless of success or money, are still at the mercy of their names—names that someone else made famous.

Seems rough. But imagine how rough it would be for those on the wrong side of a celebrity name if there was a hit song that made things even worse. 

Post Malone’s 2015 single “White Iverson” did just that. It intentionally told the story of the singer ballin’ out and playing by his own rules—and at the same time unintentionally put the spotlight on any Caucasians who happen to share a name with the Philadelphia 76ers great. How does it feel to be a white person named Allen Iverson in a post-Post Malone world?

There was only one way to find out: We spoke to four white guys named Allen Iverson. We asked them about the song. We asked for their best stories. We asked them about practice. We learned that thirsty women used to cold-call hotels hoping to reach Allen Iverson the basketball player and instead ended up getting the 10-year-old son of an insurance guy. The only thing we didn’t do was get permission to use their photos.

Life in America is weird. It’s even weirder when strangers recite the “Practice?” rant to you.

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Allen Iverson
51 years old
Business Owner

What is your best "my name is Allen Iverson” story?
I'm actually friends with Emmitt Smith, the real Emmitt Smith. So I was playing in a golf tournament one time with him and our names were on there, so he showed up and everyone was like, "He's playing with Allen Iverson!" So there was a crowd of people when I showed up and I was like, "I'm Allen Iverson!" and they were like, "No, you're not." So I showed them my license. 

Back before social media—because our number was listed in Dallas—I would get phone calls in the middle of the night from women calling hoping it was the real Allen Iverson. My wife would get so frustrated: "It’s the wrong one!" They would call all hours of the night. One lady called and my wife was on the phone and she kept telling her: "He is not here!" But the lady was persistent saying, "I know he’s there!" It was pretty funny. The late night calls weren't so good, but once cell phones took off it kinda went away.

You’re older than the Allen Iverson. When did this start for you?
My stepdad sent me an article about Allen Iverson when he was at Georgetown and I didn't really think anything about it, because he wasn't really famous. Then it went quite a few years until he became famous, but I didn't travel much either. I lived in the middle of nowhere [at the time] in Wisconsin so it wasn't a big thing. My career started to take off in business right along with his basketball career. So the more popular he got, the more I traveled, the more people were in awe of my name. 

There's always something when someone sees my name. His name is "The Answer"; I've nicknamed myself "The Disappointment." [Laughs.] When I get a car, a hotel, or show up for anything, they all think it's the real one, so when they see me they're always like, "Aw, man." But it's pretty funny and I laugh about it all the time. It's a good conversation piece.

What are your personal feelings about practice?
[Laughs.] I'm a big golfer, so everybody knows my name and sees me on the driving range before we tee off. "ALLEN IVERSON DON’T PRACTICE!" I hear that all the time when I'm on the driving range. "What do you mean practice? What are you practicing for? Allen Iverson don’t practice!” [Laughs.] That never stops.


Al Iverson
64 years old
Math Teacher

What is your best "my name is Allen Iverson” story?
My son is now 30 and my daughter is 32, and back when they were younger we went to Virginia Beach—he's from that area. We stayed a couple days with my cousin's husband and he was like, "We saw this guy who's the greatest athlete we've ever seen named Allen Iverson—he's got your name! We saw him in the championship at a high school football game. He threw for a touchdown and ran for one, never left the field, and he's an even better basketball player. But he's not going to play basketball because he's been arrested.” 

We spent a couple days there and were having breakfast; I saw the headlines on the paper, “Allen Iverson Sent to Jail.” I asked our waitress, who was about 20 and didn't know anything about sports, "Can I look at that paper?" She said, "Oh, no, I can screw up anything but my boss will fire me if I don't have the newspaper when he gets here." Then I was like, "That’s me!" I pulled out my ID and she looked at me then went up to the bartender, who obviously knew something about sports and was pointing back and forth. I read his lips as he said, "That’s not him, you idiot!"

“We would get phone calls in the middle of the night from women calling hoping it was the real Allen Iverson. My wife would get so frustrated.”

How long did you fool her for?
About 30-40 seconds. I never got that newspaper. Then I went back home and I said if this kid ever gets out of jail, "You're going to hear about him." They all thought I was nuts, but then a couple years later they were like, "Wow, there really is a super athlete named Allen Iverson!"

Any other incidents?
Yeah, I was teaching at Schaumburg High school [in Schaumburg, Illinois], this was like maybe five years later. This was the first time Philadelphia came to play the Bulls—it's a true story. We had just got the internet at the school and some inappropriate pictures were sent by a teacher to another teacher as a joke. Our principal went berserk because some of the kids had gotten it and she said, "If anything like this happens again, the person better bring their union steward in." She was banging her fist on the podium. About two weeks later, I was set to chaperone a basketball game, and I started receiving emails from young ladies saying they wanted to meet me on Friday, when the Bulls were playing Philadelphia. 

I got a couple and I blew them off, then all of a sudden I got a bunch more. Some of them were fairly descriptive—I thought somebody was playing with me. I showed them to my desk partner, who was the basketball coach for girls, and he was like, "Al, you know Allen Iverson is coming to town, and I think these emails are directed to him. You better show them to the principal." We brought it in and since she didn't know who Allen Iverson was, she said, "Mr. Iverson, have you been inappropriate with some ladies or made some advances?" I said, "No, Allen Iverson is coming from Philadelphia; [he’s] the No. 1 draft pick.” She got nervous and told me to destroy any more emails I got.

“It got to the point where I would walk across the green and all these kids would scream ‘Hey, White Iverson! White Iverson!’ and I'd wave back.”

Have you ever heard of the song “White Iverson”?
Yes, I have. I guess I didn't tell you, but, yes, I am white. In fact, my mom is from Norway so I'm blonde—well, I'm getting gray now. But I'm very white. We spend our winters in California, I substitute-teach out there and I love it, it's much different from Schaumburg, Illinois, where I taught, which was middle class and upper-middle class, although we had a lot of people of color at our school. But out there [in California] it's all Hispanic and black kids, and I love it. These kids came up to me one time and said, “There's a new song about white Iverson. No disrespect, because there are some bad words, but would you like to hear it?” So I did. Everything out there is outside, there are no hallways, it's not like New Jersey, New York, or Chicago. It got to the point where I would walk across the green and all these kids would scream, "Hey, White Iverson! White Iverson!" and I'd wave back. My last week there I was getting a standing ovation and they were playing it! I am the White Iverson! I've been crowned at Palm Springs High school. 

What are your personal feelings about practice?
Well, practice is just practice! [Laughs.] I coached wrestling and participated in wrestling in high school and I also coached football. I believed that practice was important. Obviously if someone had the talent of Allen Iverson in high school and college, you wouldn't have to practice that much, but certainly I think practice is important.


Al Iversen
77 years old
New Jersey

How has being named Al Iversen affected your life?
During Allen Iverson's heyday, when I was renting a car or going into a restaurant, there would be people waiting around for autographs and I would walk up to the counter and say, "I'm Al Iversen" and they'd put down their papers and walk away. I was fat and white so that was very different.

When's the earliest you remember realizing that Allen Iverson the basketball player had a similar name as yours?
It was probably in the early ‘90s in Philadelphia or some airport. Then we also had it in Florida. It was just one of those things that happened. He's the basketball player that's short, has tattoos, and is black, and that's completely the opposite of me. 

Have you heard of the song “White Iverson”?
No, I have not heard of the song.

What are your personal feelings about practice?

There's a famous rant where Allen Iverson goes on about practice.
He didn't want to always practice, right? He's sort of like Trump in that respect, I guess. I think practice is important.


Alan Iverson
57 years old
Insurance Agency Owner

What is your best "my name is Allen Iverson” story?
I remember when he was in high school, someone who follows basketball a lot more than me came up and told me that there was a guy named Allen Iverson who's supposed to be one of the best coming out. 

Another time, I was at a convention and brought my wife and kids—we were in San Antonio. Allen Iverson and I were in the same hotel on the same night. We got some interesting phone calls. You got an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old taking calls from people saying, "We are going to bring you some presents.” They had us confused. While we were at the convention, my sons were getting a lot of calls from AI's friends who wanted to come up and party. My kids would have loved it, but they were too young. My oldest son's name is Eric Allen Iverson and he's a big AI fan; the other one shares Allen Iverson’s birthday. What are the odds of us being in the same hotel during the same night? [Laughs.]

You said you aren't a huge basketball fan, but your son's middle name is Allen. How much would you say you know about the NBA’s Allen Iverson?
Oh, I've watched his documentary [2014’s Iverson] and I've followed him enough when he was coming up from high school and some problems he had. But my kids probably know him more. They bought all the jerseys and shoes and whatever. I'm more of a Swedish, gray-haired, overweight Allen Iverson. I get a lot of people that say, "Are you Allen Iverson?" when I go rent a car.

When he was playing in Colorado, we flew from Minneapolis and had to stop in Denver, and they called Allen Iverson because I didn't check in to my seat. There were like 30 people there. Sorry to disappoint. [Laughs.] It has worked for me to get up to first class a few times. A couple guys, like agents would say, "I like your name so we are just going to give you first class." It has worked for me a little bit.

What are your personal feelings about practice?
I don't like practice. [Laughs.] Practice? None of that, no.

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