Video Of The Week: Allen Iverson's Hall Of Fame Speech

My two favorite basketball players, Patrick Ewing and Allen Iverson, are both products of John Thompson Jr’s Georgetown program of the 80s and 90s. Both went on to have hall of fame careers in the NBA and both were franchise players on teams that got close but never won an NBA championship. The thing Patrick and Allen have, more than anything else, is heart.

And Allen’s heart is on display in this rambling 30min acceptance speech he gave at the Basketball Hall Of Fame yesterday.

It’s about 25mins of him thanking people (his family, the people who shaped him as a child, his friends, his coaches, his teammates, his competitors, etc) and about 5mins of speech making. But in all of that are a few gems.

  • the feeling of stepping on the court against Michael Jordan for the first time
  • his relationship with the Philly fans
  • his relationship with the media
  • John Thompson Jr’s decision to recruit him to Georgetown and “save his life”
  • how he learned the crossover

Allen is far from perfect, as a player and as a person (who is?), but what you see in this speech is how he managed to hold it all together throughout a chaotic career and life. His reputation is now “solidified” as he says at the end of the speech. I am very happy for AI.


Comments (Archived):

  1. gregorylent

    do you use cloudflare? suddenly this site and many others are interrupted by a cloudflare security webpage .. so irritatinggreat speech from the heart from iverson

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. I do use CloudFlare. But I think the problem this site occasionally has is related to a problematic relationship between my web host and CloudFlare

  2. creative group

    FRED:.We are from the same generation. We have totally different nurturing but viewed the exact history and events in the same space in time. As many contributor’s had. (We are Unequivocally and Unapologetically Baby Boomers and proud of the accomplishments and contributions of our generation to the world.There are few times we view this blogs topics with a wasted opportunity to contribute and engage. This topic is one we shared. We rooted for individual players from the Big East that played against the hometown colleges we could neither afford to attend or had the right mindset during those critical young years.While all the sports history unfolded us Baby Boomers who grew up in this era appreciated the talent and flaws of AI (Allen Iverson) the first pseudonym associated with the two letters now used to identify Artificial Intelligence. AI provided so much joy as a competitor. We rooted for AI to succeed in spite of privilege and those enjoying exclusivity attempted to rob him of that dream. (Thanks to John Thompson who wouldn’t allow it)Hat tipped to AI and to Fred for making this a worthwhile topic.The constant theme and connection was Dr. J.Drops the mic.Knicks, Yankees, Giants and Rangers all day long. Without ever jumping on a bandwagon.

  3. BillMcNeely

    Ill never forget his “its just practice” qoute

    1. Leon Williams

      He is also the greatest MWB ever.Most wife beater

      1. Russell

        +100 haha this is a GEM. The reason I scroll through AVC comments incl all the nonsence from LE to find this!!

  4. Val Tsanev

    Great player, never met him so I can’t speak of him as a person. Too bad he is bankrupt! It is a tragedy how many professional players go bankrupt after making millions of dollars during their esteemed careers. There needs to be an educational system put in place across all professional sports teaching athletes how to manage their finance. Money management 101!

    1. LE

      Education can’t fix a ‘mess’ like this, nor can a good financial advisor [1]:…It boils down to bad life choices resulting from a combination of circumstance, weakness, lack of upbringing, sycophants and bad luck. Education is not going to fix that.This was a good documentary on Netflix but I don’t think it’s streaming anymore:…According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, 60 percent of NBA players are broke within five years of retirement. For 78 percent of NFL players, it takes only three years. Sucked into bad investments, stalked by freeloaders, saddled with medical problems, and naturally prone to showing off, most pro athletes get shocked by harsh economic realities after years of living the high life. Drawing surprisingly vulnerable confessions from retired stars like Jamal Mashburn, Bernie Kosar, and Andre Rison, as well as Marvin Miller, the former executive director of the MLB Players Association, this fascinating documentary digs into the psychology of men whose competitive nature carries them to victory on the field and ruin off it. TFF Alum Billy Corben (Cocaine Cowboys) paints a complex picture of the many forces that drain athletes’ bank accounts, placing some of the blame on the culture at large while still holding these giants accountable for their own hubris. A story of the dark side of success, Broke is an allegory for the financial woes haunting economies and individuals all over the world. [1] Which was my gut reaction to your suggestion of having an educational system to fix this problem

      1. Richard

        Why the league doesn’t have players contracts include an opt out clause (if you do nothing for the first 5 years you have opted in) that 40% of their salaries are deposited in a S&P index fund is inexplicable.

        1. LE

          For one thing it’s a bit condescending or patronizing. And it’s a contract. Why stop at that nanny issue? What’s next, the government stepping in and getting involved to prevent some foolish immature athlete from blowing his load? What about lottery winners?Besides why is this the leagues problem anyway? There are attorneys and agents representing the players. It’s not like they are getting those high salaries and asking the local barber who cuts their hair for their opinion.Why do you think the S&P index is a sure bet? That reminds me of what was going around prior to the crash mid 2000’s where everyone wanted to ditch social security and allow people to put their money in the gambling stock market.

          1. BillMcNeely

            I think the NFL stacks some of a rookies contract away

          2. Richard

            The literature shows that opt out clauses are the most effective means for a 20 years old to begin saving.

          3. Richard

            You seem like an intelligent guy, but how you can not see that for 20 year olds as a group a US based index fund has been the best investment over the last 100 years shows a little ignorance.As to condescending and patronizing, why not, these are high school age kids.

          4. LE

            Sure and housing will always go up everywhere and the stock market will never go from 14000 to 7000 (when you decide you need to take money out).And are you aware of how insurance companies are sweating it out because of what is almost negative interest rates and the annuities they sold (with very ‘intelligent’ actuaries involved) that assume that would never happen?…The recent low interest rate environment has been a key concern for U.S. life insurers. Life insurance companies face considerable interest rate risk given their investments in fixed-income securities and their unique liabilities as their assets and liabilities are heavily exposed to interest rate movements. Interest rate risk can materialize in various ways, impacting life insurers’ earnings, capital and reserves, liquidity and competitiveness.

          5. Richard

            Take a step backward and think of what you are saying, these are 500 of the most profitable companies world, with the most stable stream of income one can possible find, who have access to the most highly educated and talented people that the greatest educational system in the world has to offer, who can take advantage of technology like no other group of entities, and you are going to tell 20 years old not to invest in these companies ?

          6. LE

            The context of my argument is based upon your first comment and relates to either well paid or highly paid NBA players.Specifically:that 40% of their salaries are deposited in a S&P index fund is inexplicableFrom what I see the minimum salary of an NBA player is $525k per year. At that amount they deserve to have better investment advice and overall financial help and guidance than just putting their money in the S&P 500. Now if you are talking about postal workers or salarymen then sure put it in an index fund.[1]

          7. Richard

            Whether it’s 500k or 5M / yr, what they have that most people don’t is time for their savings to grow, what they don’t have What others do have is the ability to catch up (for an athlete expected lifetime earning from the sport is capped by their longevity in the game). The advice is simple, invest 40-60% of their contract in low cost index funds.This is the low risk sharp ratio investment.Unlike the salaried person whose savings need to last 20-30 years, the athlete’s savings need to carry him or her through 40-60 years.What they don’t see is that Simple FV of money formula where that Bentley today is literally costing him a few years of expenses through retirement.

          8. Quantella Owens

            May I ask where this chart came from? I did a Google search before I asked, but I had no luck. Would you please post a link ?

        2. LE

          Also I might say “big problem in the world”. We should all feel sorry for some ballplayer who gets and blows a large salary and actually has all of the advantages that the guy who gets kicked out of a factory job does not (being able to pay someone for advice at a top level). Tough shit and to bad.Edit: Reason for what may appear like insensitivity? I am tired of the general idea that there should be a safety net everywhere to prevent people from taking initiative and personal responsibility. The exception to this might be for people that are to stupid to know better or some other extenuating circumstance. To me a high priced sports star is not one of those people.

    2. Richard

      What’s also surprising to me to the how many either get married and/or have kids while they are in their 20’s.

    3. pointsnfigures

      Friend of mine is working on this. He played pro basketball for a while, and is in insurance. Counsels athletes and helps them out.

    4. Salt Shaker

      The NBA Players Association (along w/ other league unions) provides players w/ guidance and seminars on a host of areas, including financial planning. Ultimately it’s up to the players w/ the help of their agents, assuming they’re scrupulous, to make hard and intelligent choices. Some players do it well, some don’t, but the union provides structure and advice to minimize risk, assuming one is willing to take advantage of it.

  5. Hershberg

    “My heroes don’t wear suits.”

    1. fredwilson


  6. Mike

    Shaq was as funny as Iverson’s was poignant. He did not spare Kobe.

  7. Snooch

    Flawed yes. In many ways. But perhaps the best “pound for pound” player ever. He weighed a buck 60 soaking wet and took it to the rack with the most reckless abandon. The paradox of him being a JT/Georgetown product is part of what makes him so interesting, as both a player and person.

  8. John Pasmore

    Maybe Thompson’s POV can translate to business where risk taking can be applied to hiring, investing in, and promoting talent outside of those that fit “the pattern” — Thompson discovered greatness and it did some work to polish it and push AI forward…

  9. William Mougayar

    Wow, he thanked and remembered a lot of people, and that shows how nice of a person he really is.His talk underscored the importance of coaches, role models, good friends and a supporting family.

    1. PhilipSugar

      Ask his wife who he threw out of and locked out of his house naked. My Dad live near him, the neighbors hated him. Not because he was a basketball player but because he was a thug.

      1. William Mougayar

        Has he redeemed himself though?

        1. PhilipSugar

          I don’t know.The other thing that always bothered me is that he had a distain for the fans that pay his salary.This is in sharp contrast to Shaq.When I met Shaq as I shook his hand he said: “how are you big man” I said: “there is a big man here and it’s not me”He laughed from the pit of his belly and slapped me on the shoulder.

    1. kirklove

      Crosses Jordan. Epic.

      1. creative group

        Kirk love:you beat us to highlighting that segment of his MJ cross over. The other crossover when the player fell on the floor. Was attempting to identify him before you posted.

        1. kirklove

          That’s actually not a great top 10. He’s got way better plays and crosses. He was so tough and so epic. People have no idea how a man his size stood “tall” in a league that was “big-man” ball at the time. Wasn’t like Curry-ville now.

          1. Salt Shaker

            Different game today. Guards are far more reliant on the 3 than breaking down defenses during AI’s era. In a Top 15 ranking of NBA players by avg. career APG only current players John Wall, Rondo, Deron Williams and Chris Paul make the cut. It’s, sadly, far less a passing league today, although teams like San Antonio, GS are still somewhat old school. Interesting Trivia: The ABA career leader in avg. APG is Larry Brown, which explains how/why he was beneficial to AI’s career in Philly, which AI acknowledged in his HOF speech.

          2. creative group

            kirklove:A question was asked to Curry.What are you attempting to lift up off the ground?AI (Allen Iverson) jock strap.Too heavy!

    2. Chimpwithcans

      This video is siiiiiick! Thanks for posting. I had no idea how good he was.

      1. creative group

        thebigmix:Are you a millennial?

  10. Richard

    Anna Deechey –

  11. kirklove

    I love AI. Flawed, yes. Heart on his sleeve, yes. My favorite player of all time, yesssssss.

  12. Salt Shaker

    Like many things, money and greed killed the Big East, perennially as strong as the PAC 10 and Big 10, and in some years by far the most dominant b-ball conference in the nation. It’s hard to compete w/ conferences dominated by football. Of all the participating schools, St. John’s perhaps has paid the ultimate price since its decline. Very few schools can perenially dominate in b-ball or f-ball w/ out having strong programs in BOTH. (Villanova perhaps an exception).

  13. dgay07

    Two big takeaways right off the bat that stand out for me- 1. How important it was for someone- John Thompson- to take a chance and give him an opportunity when his life was about to take a drastic turn, and 2. his mother fighting for him to get that opportunity. There are many great athletes (people in general as well) who never get the chance because the risk is too high and more that don’t have a champion in their corner.

  14. Semil Shah

    Thx for posting. Eyes watered up watching. That was a speech from the heart and gut. To understand this speech, it pays to watch the ESPN 30-for-30 on Iverson’s career. When you see that documentary, you can appreciate this speech even more.

    1. fredwilson

      It’s a great documentary. What happened to him in high school was horrible

  15. Anand Gopal

    AI was huge here in India where I live. An inspiration for all the little guys to pick up a basketball and play with 100% heart and courage (not to mention style!). I was always hoping he’d end his career on a high note at Philly when he returned – maybe go out with a blowout 50 point game. Extremely thrilled for him.

  16. jason wright

    Sport. As profits for corporates I dislike. As health and well being recreation I like.

  17. Mark Anthony Given

    THE FIRST CASINO I walked into was in Biloxi, Mississippi in the late fall of 1994, and having walked into every blackjack den on the Mississippi Gulf Coast I finally found exactly what I was looking for. But I had to get my feet wet before spanking some real ass, at the biggest and best casino that had two locations, The Biloxi Grand and the Gulfport Grand fifteen miles down the beautifully manicured man made crystal white sandy beach. On the second floor separating the tab…les from the machines was a circular eight person Video Blackjack starting at $1.00. They were the only ones on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and and God as my Witness, three weeks after I turned this sore looser into my personal ATM, they were taking out of the casinos and never came back. IT TOOK ME ten thousand hours to learn how to play Blackjack like a human computer, without the emotions. Because any one hand, any series of hands does not matter. I only have to win one of every three hands dealt, against a casino system that has a built in near 50% chance of success, is mathematically unstoppable. ANOTHER thousand hours to learn the betting system it took nearly fourteen months practicing everyday, all day. I immediately seen arbitration applications for this simple mathematical formula. Arbitrage is buying and selling world currencies and some countries are so consistent they have minor fluctuations that can be capitalized with this betting formula, I learned while in federal prison in the 1980’s for federal bank fraud. I wrote about it in “I’m Going to Turn a Toothpick into a Lumber Yard,” the links below. #COLORMEUP#SCAREDSTRAIGHT #MARKANTHONYGIVEN #REALLIFEHEIST #COPONTHECOMPOUND #727BOURBONSTREET #ONLYNEWORLEANS #THEKINGOFMONTANA #CRIME #NAGINSSURRENDER #MYTRUECRIME #CRIMINALS #HOMELESSINHEAVEN#ANOTHERHOTGRAND#MYAPPOINTMENTWITHTHEDEVIL #DOPESICKANGEL #ONLYINNEWORLEANS #PARADISEMONTANA #HOMELESSINHEAVEN #NAGINSSURRENDER #MYKATRINA