- We talkin' about practice?!? Fifteen years ago, Allen Iverson sparked a million sound bites—and inspired quite a few rap verses, as well. From an Eminem line to a Judge's federal decision, here's a look at the many references to A.I.'s legendary press conference.
It was 15 years ago—May 7, 2002— that Allen Iverson gave us arguably the most famous press conference of all time, dropping the word 'practice' 22 times and giving the sports world a sound bite that would be repeated for decades to come. And all these years later, the rant remains ubiquitous in society—from rap songs to shoe commercials to a judge's federal decision(!?), there's been no shortage of shout outs to Iverson's (hilarious, though widely misunderstood) missive. In honor of its anniversary, here's a look at a timeline of the cultural references to it through the years, from Eminem to LeBron and all the way back to A.I. himself.
MAY 7, 2002: 'We're talkin' about practice, man!'
'We're talking about practice! We're talking about practice! We ain't talking about the game.'
DECEMBER 1, 2009: Referenced in Mac Miller's 'Foolin' Around'
LISTEN [1:03]: 'But no practice here so call me Iverson / But I'mma be ready when the finals come.'
DECEMBER 11, 2012: Referenced in Eminem's 'C'mon Let Me Ride' verse
LISTEN [2:33]: 'Allen Iverson of safe sex / condoms are for practice, man / I skip practice.'
FEBRUARY 12, 2013: Referenced in Chamillionaire's 'Hold Up (Elevate)'
[0:30]: 'Makin' ballin' look easy, baby, we don't practice like Iverson.'
OCTOBER 29, 2013: Sampled by Action Bronson in the aptly named 'Practice'
[LISTEN]: 'Not a game, not a game, not a game.'
OCTOBER 30, 2013: Iverson reveals the story behind the rant
Eleven years later, while he was discussing his retirement with reporters, Allen Iverson talked about the real reason he was so emotional during that presser—a reason that has too often been overlooked by all: “They had no idea my best friend had just got killed. The press conference wasn’t about practice. It was about me being [possibly] traded from Philadelphia. Nobody ever talked about that, never heard why I was upset or what the conference was about.”
JUNE 7, 2014: LeBron pays homage to rant (on A.I.'s birthday!)
The day before Game 2 of the 2014 NBA Finals, Dwyane Wade asked LeBron the final question of his press conference, and LeBron paid tribute to Iverson (who just happened to be turning 38 that day).
JUNE 5, 2015: Kent Babb's book claims that Iverson was drunk during presser
In his book, Not A Game: The Incredible rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson, Babb said many people around the Sixers' organization believed that Iverson was intoxicated during the rant. Stephen A. Smith took exception to this suggestion, calling it a "flat-out lie" and saying he spoke directly with Iverson, who said he was "being lied on."
JULY 8, 2015: Judge quotes Iverson's rant in Redskins' trademark registration ruling
Best explanation of a ruling...ever? In his cancelation of the Redskins' federal trademark registrations, District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee wrote:
"As a threshold matter, throughout the pleadings the parties conflated the legal principles surrounding trademarks with those surrounding trademark registration. Just as Allen Iverson once reminded the media that they were wasting time at the end of the Philadelphia 76ers' season "talking about practice" and not an actual professional basketball game, the Court is similarly compelled to highlight what is at issue in this case—trademark registration, not the trademarks themselves.”
APRIL 4, 2016: Iverson says 'I wish I could take it back.'
Speaking with media after hearing of his selection to the NBA Hall of Fame, Iverson reflected a bit more on that fateful presser:
"If you woulda said something about 'lasagna' at that point, I would have kept saying 'lasagna.' I was already on edge ... All I thought I was doing was coming and telling Philadelphia that I wasn't going anywhere ... I wish I could take it back. My kids tease me about it. It makes me so mad. 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?!
MAY 13, 2016: Reebok releases 'Question Mid Practice' shoe
JUNE 10, 2016: Nick Jonas samples rant on 'Comfortable'
LISTEN [2:49]: 'I'm not shovin' it aside, you know, like it don't mean anything.'
AUGUST 5, 2016: Iverson is asked, 'Do you still feel the same way about practice?'
'Obviously you didn't get it when I explained it. I thought I cleared that up!'
SEPTEMBER 9, 2016: Yao Ming makes 'practice' joke in his Hall of Fame speech.
'When I heard I would be the first speaker tonight, I think somebody made a mistake. I think this spot belongs to the great Allen Iverson. You know why? Because I need more practice than him.'
FEBRUARY 23, 2017: Kyle Korver has an Iverson story he thinks is better than the 'practice' rant
Kyle Korver went on the Road Trippin' Podcast and talked about the time Iverson missed practice after the All-Star break and was benched. Korver claims the rant to the media was even better than the one that is now infamous:
“He comes up to do his interview, he's like, 'I don't know no former eight-time scoring champ that come off the bench. I don't know no former MVP that come off the bench. I don't know no former Olympian that come off the bench.' And this dude read off his whole resume right off. And it got no love. I was like, 'this is the best interview I have ever heard in my whole life.'”
APRIL 4, 2017: 'We talkin' about...parking!?'
Confirmed: 15 years later, the spoofs still resonate—particularly when they're made by Iverson himself.