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A.I. Officially Retires, Loves Aaron McKie, Regrets Nothing

Oct 30, 2013, 4:01 PM EDT

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It may feel like he’s done this a half-dozen teams already over the course of the last three years, since his final season in his second tour with the Sixers petered out unceremoniously, but today, he made it official: Allen Iverson is no longer a professional basketball player. AI announced his retirement today at the Wells Fargo Center, with his kids, mother, and various other Allen Iverson This Is Your Life figures by his side.

Iverson was his typical emotional self today at the ceremony, sounding on the verge of tears throughout and answering every question with a sincere thoughtfulness–you could actually see him thinking about his answers, rather than just spewing his pre-prepared cliches–which remains extremely rare of professional athletes. No huge revelations were had–no, Iverson hasn’t accepted a role on Michael Jordan’s assistant coaching staff in Charlotte, and no, he’s not standing on call in case the Sixers need a backup point guard on a ten-day in March–but there were memorable A.I. moments:

  • Giving credit to his Holy Trinity of Coaches, Mike Bailey (high school), John Thompson (college) and Larry Brown (pros, obv), repeatedly mentioning them in succession as the three men who shaped him as a basketball player and made him the player he eventually was.
  • Expressing apathy towards his standing in the all-time ranks of sports columnists that have never played the game: “All I care about is what the guys that play think,” sez Iverson
  • Boasting about the greatest reward of his playing days: “I got the best NBA stories. I won’t never run out. Never.”
  • Clarifying his emotional state during the infamous “Practice” speech: “If I coulda gone back, I would have never done the interview… [the media] had no idea that my best friend had just gotten killed. You never heard about how I thought I had been traded from the Sixers.”
  • Responding curtly to Howard Eskin’s self-ID before asking his question: “I know your name.
  • Responding to Howard Eskin’s question about if he had any regrets: “Nope.”
  • Responding to another question about if he kept himself in shape in the off-season waiting for teams to give him a call: “No.”
  • Speaking on his perceived legacy in the realm of Philly sports: “There’s Doc and there’s A.I. And that’s Philly basketball.”
  • Explaining his post-playing plans: “Yeah, there’ll be a lot of fishing.”
  • Listing the teammates who meant the most to him in his career: “Aaron McKie. Aaron McKie. Aaron McKie. Aaron McKie. Aaron McKie. Aaron McKie. He was my teammate…but it was on another level. It was more than just basketball with me and him. I made a million mistakes, but if it weren’t for Aaron McKie, I’d have made two million of ‘em.”

The high point of the interview, apart from the genuinely touching McKie moment–which was the only time that Iverson actually broke into tears–was a comment from a fan in the audience. Iverson had just gotten through talking about his greatest moment as a Sixer, which he unsurprisingly deemed the feeling of being in the middle of the then-First Union Center after winning the East finals, feeling “like we had a chance to win the title.” When he was through rhapsodizing, the audience member shouted out:

Tyronn Lue, baby! Tyronn Lue!

Thanks for the memories, AI. And RIP Tyronn Lue forever.

Here’s A.I. on McKie:

  1. Mike - Oct 30, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    That was an amazing hour of realness, unfortunately punctuated by the phony king of idiocy masturbating his own ego with the stupid practice question. AI is flawed and real. I appreciate him far more than guys like Jordan and Kobe who never let you see the men they are.

    Reply
    • rskuggs - Oct 30, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      Then go have a Beer with him. As a FAN I want TITLES!

      Reply
      • DOOPerman - Oct 30, 2013 at 5:11 PM

        Spoken like a true ignorant fan who can’t appreciate an athlete who gave it his all. You want titles? Maybe you should look to place that blame on ownership who refused to surround AI with the right players to help him get over the hump by himself. Eric Snow, Matt Gieger ? Give me a break.

      • willh888 - Oct 30, 2013 at 5:19 PM

        I’lll give you a break, and raise you one Tyrone Hill and a Todd McCulloch

  2. Mickey - Oct 30, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    Too young to really remember Dr. J’s Sixers, but I love, love, love Allen and his era of Sixers basketball is at the top of my memories as a Philadelphia sports fan. Totally agree with the comment above, his talent on the court aside, the best part about Allen were his flaws and his real-ness. All the years of watching MJ and never realizing what a prick he was in real life until after he retired, I got to watch Allen grow and fuck up, and grow some more, and fuck up some more…………….totally endeared him to me forever.

    Reply
  3. DOOPerman - Oct 30, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    It really hurts to see this, but apart of me is ready to send him off into the sunset and let him finally be at peace in a REAL retirement (not that phony retired, come back to play a year crap). He may not have won a championship but he will forever be my all time favorite Sixer & NBA player. His heart & determination to win games made him something very special. I still have my authentic white Iverson jersey from when I was 14-15 (im 25 now) that I still hope to one day get signed by him and framed. I wont throw it out, I refuse to. Allen “The Answer” Iverson, thank you for some absolutely AMAZING years here in Philly.

    Reply
  4. ODB - Oct 30, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    For most of us who were growing up around Philadelphia during at least some part of his career, he is a special athlete. Definitely will be one of my favorites for life. I’m not sure there is anyone who was more fun to root for, and as others have said, his willingness to always speak openly and wear his heart on his sleeve is a rare gift.

    We will miss you!

    Reply
  5. Slasher - Oct 30, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    I’ve made the comment before, and I mean no disrespect to Lindros, or Donovan, or Chase or anyone from 2008, but the two athletes in my lifetime (I’m 29) to me who always felt like the were representing Philly every night were Dawk and AI. Thanks for all the memories

    Reply
  6. EaglesFanInKansas - Oct 30, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    The Answer!

    Reply
  7. G_E - Oct 30, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    Love him or hate him, you can’t deny his heart, his loyalty or his toughness.

    I am glad that he passed through this town and gave us an exciting stretch of pro basketball. Iverson wasn’t 6 foot, he probably weighed 150 pounds soaking wet, on payday with boots on. But he made more out of that frame then anyone else could have. Pound for pound gets thrown around a lot in boxing but it’s fitting with Iverson.

    He’s human and has made many mistakes. Who hasn’t? But that made him even more endearing because you knew what you were getting with him. Right or wrong, he was who he was and there was no confusion. When you saw him on the court, you knew you were going to get your money’s worth.

    #3 will hang in the rafters soon enough. Hopefully, Iverson can get his situation together. Thanks for the memories, Allen. Thanks for that Spring in 2001. Thanks for the highlights. Thanks for the soundbites. Thanks for repping Philly. Thanks for giving it your all and then some. Thanks for getting back up off the floor again and again and again.

    Reply
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  9. churk3 - Mar 2, 2014 at 2:04 AM

    Thnx for the memories AI. Between iverson and jordan i had one of the most memorable sports childhoods one could imagine. Titans of 2 eras of basketball…both finished with the game. Now i watch basketball and frankly its hard to watch…its not the same. Its a game of punks now. Yes Allen is probably considered one of those punks but he had heart, courage, and played with a daring tenacity. Maybe im just getting old and its hard to root for egotistical kids 10 years younger than you. Farewell and good luck. PS thnx for the one last “answer” that was awesome!

    Reply

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