Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers talks.

Larry Brown: Allen Iverson says Allen Iverson was greatest player ever

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Confidence was never Allen Iverson’s issue.

The guy who might be the first you think of when you think of Philadelphia 76ers basketball (that Dr. J guy was pretty good, too) will have his number retired by the organization on Saturday night. It’s the hottest ticket in Philly.

Talking Iverson, Bryant Gumbal and HBO Sports went to the coach that got the most out of him — Larry Brown. Who is having a very strong season as the coach of SMU.

What followed was Larry Brown describing vintage Iverson (credit Ben Golliver at SI’s The Point Forward for the transcription):

Bryant Gumbel: “When’s the last time you talked to him?”

Larry Brown: “He was here about a month ago. He spoke to our team, Bryant, and it was the most unbelievable talk I’ve ever heard. Our kids were spellbound. And he was so open and honest with ‘em. He talked about the good things he did and the things he’d like to change, which weren’t a lot. But the one thing that stuck out in my mind, one of the kids said, ‘Who’s the best player to ever play?’ Who do you think he said?”

Bryant Gumbel: “Himself.”

Larry Brown: “Allen Iverson. And he said, ‘I’m not disrespecting Michael [Jordan] or Magic [Johnson] or Julius Erving or any of those guys.’ He said, ‘I couldn’t have done what I did at my size if I didn’t feel that way.’”

Long live Allen Iverson.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.