HOUSTON — If Allen Iverson could have it all to do over again, he would have done everything the same.
All of it.
Except one thing.
He would have listened to Larry Brown.
Iverson and Brown had an often contentious relationship during their seven years together with the 76ers.
Brown was old-school and buttoned-down. Iverson was hip-hop and defiant.
They accomplished some great things together. But not at first.
On the day Iverson was selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the 11-time all-star expressed profound regret at the way he defied Brown, who preceded him in the Hall of Fame by 10 years.
“I don’t regret nothing,” Iverson said at a downtown Houston hotel after getting the Hall of Fame news. “Like nothing in my life. I love being who I am. I love the person that I am. I feel comfortable in my skin.
“But if I could have a wish as an athlete? 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.
“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.”
Iverson played for Johnny Davis as a rookie in 1996-97 and then for Brown for the next six years.
He was an all-star all six years, led the 76ers to the NBA finals in 2001, was MVP in 2001, was All-Star game MVP in 2001 (“Where’s my coach?”) and led the NBA in scoring three of his six years under Brown.
“Once I bought in and caught up to what I was supposed to know, that’s when I became the MVP,” Iverson said. “That’s when it went from just a talented player to the best player on Earth.”
Brown went on to coach the Pistons, Knicks and Bobcats before moving back to the college ranks in 2012 and coaching Southern Methodist, where he remains.
Iverson’s Georgetown coach, John Thompson, was there Monday but Brown wasn’t at Iverson’s press conference, and Iverson hadn’t spoken to him yet.
But he promised he would soon.
“We going to talk,” he said. “Trust me. But I’m going to tell you exactly why I haven’t spoken to him yet. I know I have to speak to him today because it’s official. So I have to speak to him. But the emotional part of me, you know what I mean? Is why I haven’t spoken to him yet.
“Because I know that there won’t be no conversation, there will just be crying. I know it. As soon as I hear his voice. I already know it.”