76ers

Larry Brown reflects on the practice rant and coaching Allen Iverson

Larry Brown reflects on the practice rant and coaching Allen Iverson

May 7 marks the 18th anniversary of Allen Iverson’s infamous practice rant. We’ve seen it a bunch and know a little of the background.

The Sixers had just been eliminated from the playoff by the Celtics. Iverson still was mourning the death of his best friend, Rahsaan Langford, and the murder trial had just begun.

Hours before Iverson started that press conference, he had a conversation with his coach, Larry Brown, at PCOM, where the team used to practice. As a guest on the Sixers Talk podcast, Brown shed some light on that conversation and where Iverson’s mind was.

Brown wasn’t aware of Iverson losing his friend but understands now how upset Iverson was given how fiercely loyal he is to those close to him. All Iverson wanted that day was a sign of loyalty from Brown and the Sixers.

I remember Allen missed a meeting. ... You have the meeting usually with your players after the season ends. You talk about what we did well, what we needed to do better, players tell me what I need to improve on. Allen didn’t show up. My recollection is I met Allen at the practice facility after he didn’t show up for the meeting and all he wanted to talk to me about was, ‘You’re not going to trade me, Coach. Please make sure you keep me here. I want to be here. I want to play in Philly. I love Philly. I don’t want to play anywhere else.’

“My conversation with him is, ‘Allen, you got to change. You’re the best player. Everybody follows you. If you could just spend more time working on your craft, and not just compete every game as hard as you possibly can, you can help us maybe take it to the next level. You’d be a great example, to me, for the younger kids and if they see you not doing all the right things, it’s very difficult for a coach to get the most out of his team.’

“And he listened to me. He was real respectful, but he kept coming back, ‘Coach, please tell me I’m not gonna be traded.’ I told him that [he wasn’t going to be traded], because Billy [King] and I and Pat [Croce] had talked about it. And then there was like a three-hour gap between the press conference he was gonna have and the conversation I had with him. Now I can’t tell you what he was doing during those three hours, but … he wanted to hear from the people out there, ‘Hey Allen, Coach said he’s not gonna trade you, are you going to be here?’ and the first thing they asked him about was about practice. That set him off because his only thought about that press conference was, ‘Hey, I’m gonna be back here. I’m gonna be back with Coach. I’m gonna be back with my teammates I love and we’re gonna try to build on what we did before hopefully to make our team better.’

It’s no secret that Iverson and Brown had their ups and downs. Some of those negative moments played out in public.

Brown resigned in 2003, but there was always a mutual respect between the two. In fact, during that presser 18 year ago, Iverson referred to Brown as “the best coach in the world.” Iverson has countlessly thanked Brown for the impact he’s made on his career. He’s even admitted that he wished he listened to Brown a little more.

During Iverson’s jersey retirement ceremony in 2014, a video message from Brown played. One of the things Brown said was, “God put me there to coach you.” As he reflects back, Brown is grateful for that opportunity and the bond he built Iverson.

He made me a better coach. He made me a better person. I used to tell him all the time, as much as people loved and admired Magic [Johnson] and Larry [Bird] and Michael [Jordan] and Julius [Erving], Allen had his own group that admired him because most people could identify with him. He was barely 6-feet tall, 165 pounds. Nobody competed any harder, tried to win a ball game [any harder].

“Yeah, he had some issues that troubled me. We even talk today. I brought him to my teams at SMU. I never thought Allen gave himself a chance to even be better than he really was because he didn’t approach the game the same way as maybe a Kobe [Bryant] or a Michael [Jordan] did. And he knows that. ... That frustrated me because I didn’t think anybody was more athletic or had more of a gift to be great than Allen. And I coached some great players. He had unbelievable respect from his teammates and from our coaches, but I think there are things that he could’ve done better. 

“But at the end of the day, I’m so proud I got to coach him and be around him because he helped me as I moved forward. I wish I had it to do all over again to coach him because I think I could’ve done a little better job with him. … For me that will to win and what he meant to that city, and when you say, ‘Hey Coach, that was one of my favorite teams,’ I can’t go anywhere where people don’t stop me and say, ‘That 2001 team with Allen Iverson might have been my favorite team I ever watched.’ And we didn’t win a championship.

Be sure to check back Monday for the entire conversation with Brown on the Sixers Talk podcast.

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Kobe Bryant's 7 best NBA moments in Philly

Kobe Bryant's 7 best NBA moments in Philly

We are paying tribute to a legend. 

NBC Sports Philadelphia will re-broadcast three of Kobe Bryant's landmark games Monday night — the 2008 Olympic gold medal game at 6 p.m., followed by Bryant's final game in Philadelphia at 8 p.m. and the 2012 Olympic gold medal game at 10:30 p.m. 

Bryant honed his Hall of Fame talents at Lower Merion High School and sharpened his skills and competitiveness in the Sonny Hill League and on playgrounds across the Delaware Valley. 

Bryant had his share of highs and lows as a professional in his hometown. 

He played 17 regular-season games in Philadelphia, finishing with a 7-10 record and a 22.8 scoring average. More importantly, he had a perfect 3-0 record in postseason games in Philadelphia, with all three wins coming in the Lakers' 4-1 series victory over the 76ers in the 2001 NBA Finals. Bryant averaged 25.7 points in those three games and captured the second of his five career NBA championships. 

Here's a look back at some of Bryant's most memorable moments in Philly. 

First NBA game in Philadelphia — Nov. 26, 1996
Bryant played his first professional game in his hometown as an 18-year old reserve, scoring 12 points in 21 minutes in a 100-88 Lakers win. He shot 4 of 10 from the field, 2 of 5 from three-point range and made both of his free throw attempts.  

Bryant's rookie counterpart Allen Iverson finished with 16 points on 6 of 27 shooting and 10 assists. Former Temple star Eddie Jones and Shaquille O'Neal each had a game-high 23 points for the Lakers. 

Bryant came off the bench in 65 of the 71 games he played as a rookie, averaging 7.6 points in 15.5 minutes per game. 

NBA Finals — June 2001
The Lakers and Sixers arrived in Philadelphia for Games 3, 4, 5 of the 2001 NBA Finals with the series even at one game apiece. The 22-year old Bryant famously proclaimed that he was coming to Philly to "cut their hearts out."

The Lakers went on to win the next three games in Philadelphia to secure their second straight NBA championship. 

Game 3 was the closest of the three games — the Lakers won 96-91 behind Bryant's 32 points. He had 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in a 14-point win in Game 4 before closing out the series with 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in a 12-point win in Game 5. 

2002 All-Star Game MVP — Feb. 10, 2002
Bryant's "cut their hearts out" comment was still fresh in the minds of Sixers fans eight months later when the 2002 All-Star game was played in Philadelphia. Bryant was booed throughout the night, but he fed off the negative energy to score a game-high 31 points and win the first of his four career All-Star Game MVP awards. 

He was subsequently booed during the All-Star MVP presentation and admitted that his feelings were hurt by the frosty reception from his hometown crowd.  

Bryant averaged 25.2 points during that 2001-2002 season and led the Lakers to a third straight NBA championship. 

44-point outburst — Dec. 20, 2002 
Bryant's best game in Philadelphia came 10 months after that 2002 All-Star Game, when he posted 44 points and 10 assists in a 107-104 loss to the Sixers. He shot 16 of 35 from the field, 2 of 5 from three-point range and made all 10 of his free throw attempts. 

Iverson led the Sixers to victory with 32 points, nine steals and five assists. Keith Van Horn had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. 

The 2003 Lakers came up short in their quest for a fourth straight NBA title, losing to the Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals.

Snapping the streak — Dec. 21, 2007
Bryant and the Lakers got their first regular-season win in Philadelphia in nearly eight years, beating the Sixers 106-101 to snap a six-game losing streak at the formerly named Wachovia Center.

Bryant had 19 points in the win, but Andrew Bynum stole the show with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Andre Miller led the Sixers with 21 points and eight assists. 

The 2007-2008 season marked the first of three straight trips to the NBA Finals for Bryant and the Lakers. They would lose the 2008 Finals to the Celtics before beating the Magic in 2009 and winning a rematch with Boston in 2010. 

Last great performance in Philadelphia — Dec. 16, 2012
This was Bryant's last vintage performance in his hometown. The 34-year old Bryant had 34 points and six assists in a 111-98 win over the Sixers. Nick Young led the Sixers with 30 points, while Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes each scored 16 points. 

Bryant's 2012-2013 campaign ended with a torn Achilles tendon late in the 80th game of the regular season. The Kobe-less Lakers were swept by the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. 

This turned out to be Bryant's last great season. He averaged 27.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds to earn First Team All-NBA honors in his 17th NBA season. 

Final game in Philadelphia — Dec. 1, 2015
Bryant's last game in Philadelphia came nearly 14 years after he was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game. That proved to be plenty of time for old wounds to heal. He was showered with applause and tributes in his Philly farewell, and for a while it looked like he would deliver one final great performance in his hometown. 

Bryant opened the game by hitting 3 of his first 4 three-point attempts, whipping the Wells Fargo Center into a frenzy. But at 37 years old, Bryant eventually ran out of gas and finished 7 of 26 from the field in a 103-91 loss to a Sixers team that entered the game with an 0-18 record. 

Bryant scored 20 points and finished his 20th and final NBA season with a 17.6 scoring average.

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Sixers Talk podcast: Will Sixers have a chip on their shoulder if playoffs happen?

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Sixers Talk podcast: Will Sixers have a chip on their shoulder if playoffs happen?

On this edition, Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick discuss:

(2:12) — Questioning Joel Embiid's fitness is like beating a dead horse; will the Sixers have a chip on their shoulder?
(13:22) — Charles Barkley calls Moses Malone trade a disaster to his career.
(20:20) — Would the season being cancelled be worse than watching our most hated rival winning the Finals?

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