I was reading some articles on ESPN last night, and today marks the 10th year anniversary of Allen Iverson's "practice" speech in front of the media. Here are some famous parts:
Reporter: "So you and coach Brown got caught up on Saturday about practice?"
Iverson: "If I can't practice, I can't practice. It
is as simple as that. It ain't about that at all. It's easy to sum it
up if you're just talking about practice. We're sitting here, and I'm
supposed to be the franchise player, and we're talking about practice. I
mean listen, we're sitting here talking about practice, not a game, not
a game, not a game, but we're talking about practice. Not the game
that I go out there and die for and play every game last it's my last
but we're talking about practice man. How silly is that?
Now I know that I'm supposed to lead by example and all that but
I'm not shoving that aside like it don't mean anything. I know it's
important, I honestly do but we're talking about practice. We're
talking about practice man. (laughter from the media crowd) We're
talking about practice. We're talking about practice. We're not
talking about the game. We're talking about practice. When you come to
the arena, and you see me play, you've seen me play right, you've seen
me give everything I've got, but we're talking about practice right now.
Reporter: "But it's an issue that your coach continues to raise?"
Iverson: "Hey I hear you, it's funny to me to, hey it's
strange to me too but we're talking about practice man, we're not even
talking about the game, when it actually matters, we're talking about
Reporter: "Is it possible that if you practiced, not you but you would make your teammates better?"
Iverson: "How in the hell can I make my teammates better by practicing?
Reporter: "So they can be used to playing with you."
Iverson: "They should be used to playing with me.
Those are my teammates. So my game is going to deteriorate because I'm
not practicing with my teammates? Is my game is going to get worse?
I'm asking you, is my game going to get worse? So what about my game?
Is my game going to get better because other players are hurt on my
team, I mean, do that hurt me? Do you think that hurts me? I'm being
honest, people are hurt on my team but do that hurt me? Does that hurt
me when I go out there and play 48 minutes, does that hurt me as a
player? Does that hurt me if this person is hurt or that person is
hurt? Do it hurt me?
Reporter: "You don't need it as much as they do."
Iverson: "What do you mean by I don't need it as much?"
Reporter: "Because you're the superstar"
Iverson: "What do you mean I'm the superstar?"
Reporter: "Because you're better than they are. One of the best in the NBA."
Reporter: "May I respond to that?"
Reporter: "There are people that have suggested, myself included, that instead of shooting 40 percent, you...
Iverson: "What do you know about basketball? Have you ever played?"
Iverson: "I don't know Phil, I don't know you as a
basketball player. I know you as a columnist but I have never heard of
you as a player though.
Reporter: "Why is that an issue?"
Iverson: "Why is that an issue? Because we're talking about basketball."
Reporter: "Let me ask my question."
Iverson: "Go ahead, Phillip."
Reporter: "Supposed you shot 44 percent..."
Iverson: "I don't know about that. That is in God's
hands. I do not know if that will help me or not. That's God. God
does that, It ain't up to you to say if Allen Iverson does this then
he'll do that. That's up to God. It ain't up to anyone in here. That
is up to God. He handles that.
Iverson thinks that practice is for increasing individual skill only, so he thinks he doesn't need it, because he already gives 100% out on the real games. Because you know, basketball isn't a team sport. Also, his low field goal percentage is something he can't control, from deduction, he is saying that he shoots the ball and God determines if it goes in.
I don't even blame ballhogs anymore, most of the time they don't know that what they are doing is inefficient. I actually think it's a bit unfair for coaches and broadcasters to say that teamwork and passing to the open man is the "right way to play". It's unfair for the ballhogs with tremendous talents. So let's just say that the "right way" is the one that leads to the most win probability. Teams with high assists ratios have higher field goal percentages. That usually leads to better chances of winning. But ballhogs refuse to look at the numbers and see what they're doing is inefficient.
How does this relate to real life? I respect people for giving it 100% effort, even when they do something wrong or short sighted. Unfortunately, it's bad when they don't see mistakes. Worse it's when they refuse to admit mistakes to themselves. The famous quote goes something like this: "When you start to think you know it all, you stop learning." And when we stop learning, GG.
Moral of Iverson's career: stay humble and keep learning.