They were two hard-headed figures who viewed the world and basketball differently — they were destined to clash.
Larry Brown was an old-school, at times hard-headed, “play the right way” kind of guy that turned off a lot of players (the mass defections from the 2004 US Olympic team had a lot to do with guys hating on Brown’s style). Allen Iverson was hip-hop incarnate on the basketball court, free-wheeling and exciting, unpredictable, and a man who liked to play without restrictions.
Iverson and Brown did clash — then went on to spearhead some of the best teams in Sixers history.
On the eve of Iverson entering the Hall of Fame, where he will be presented by Brown, Iverson regrets those clashes and his attitude, he told Jessica Cammerato of CSNPhilly.com.
“I wish I would have bought in to what [Brown] was trying to give me all along (instead of) just being defiant. Being a certified ass—- for nothing. When all he wanted was the best for me,” Iverson said in April.
“And I didn’t take constructive criticism the way I should have. You know what I mean? To me, in my eyes, he’s the best coach ever. To me. You know what I mean? And I didn’t take what God was giving me the right way. God sent him to me, and I was defiant at that time.”
Brown looks back at the relationship and sees the greatness.
“It’s always very difficult when you coach a great, great, talented kid because you want to make sure that you allow them to play as well as they’re capable of playing. When I first had the opportunity to coach Allen, his idea of how to play and my idea how he should play was a little different. But I think we evolved into a pretty special relationship.
“I think the six years I was with him, there wasn’t one night he didn’t do something that I’d never seen done before. He was probably the most athletic player I’ve been around and as competitive as anybody I’ve been around.”
This is a Hall of Fame class loaded with the ultra-deserving.
And in that group, I’m happier for nobody more — and looking forward to the speech of nobody else more — than AI.