Allen Iverson Interview
Allen Iverson is fitting in with the Denver Nuggets lately more than ever, as the team rode a five game winning streak before losing by one point yesterday in Chicago to the Bulls. InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner and other media were in New Jersey on Tuesday, March 20 and had a long post-game interview with Iverson. The Nuggets beat the nets for their fifth straight win prior to the Chicago loss, but the focus of the talk was the general state of the Nuggets, how Iverson feels being on the team, and leaving Philadelphia behind.
Again, this is a multi-reporter interview, not an InsideHoops.com exclusive. But this is the only place you'll read the full conversation.
Question: Are things starting to click now, for the first time since you arrived here?
Allen Iverson: Yeah, obviously it's a lot better, winning five games in a row. We're playing a lot better together. As a team our chemistry is a lot better. We've had some practices together and had a chance to play some games with our whole team together.
Question: Did you think it would take this long for things to come together?
Allen Iverson: I didn't know. I didn't think so. But it's just a difficult situation, and not just the chemistry with myself and Melo. You got to get the chemistry with everybody else as well. They gotta get used to playing with me, and the rest of the guys got to get used to playing with myself and Melo together. So, I'm just happy where we're at right now, and I see positive strides. But the most important thing with us is, we're playing defense. We feel like we can score, with Melo and myself out on the basketball court, and other guys can put the ball in the basket, but we have to stop people.
Question: It was a key win, beating the Nets.
Allen Iverson: I'm just glad to be a part of that. Hopefully I'm the piece of the puzzle that can get us over the hump in this situation.
Question: What's been the most difficult thing about this transition for you?
Allen Iverson: Nothing, to me. That's the scariest part of the whole thing. You always get nervous, when things seem too perfect, and things go too right. But hopefully that's just the way it is and that's the way it's going to be.
Question: In pregame, coach George Karl was calling you a great teammate and a great leader. How does it feel to hear that?
Allen Iverson: That's always good to hear, from your head coach. Because he's the one doing the most evaluating. For him to feel like that about me, I guess that says a lot about how things have been since I first got here. I'm 31 years old, and being in Philadelphia, Aaron McKie and Eric Snow was always the leaders on our team. I always just led by example. Those guys were so vocal. But here it's different. I'm the more vocal guy. But I've been places that these guys want to go. I've been through wars, playoff series, so I have that experience. So I have that resume for them guys to respect it. That's the way it's been. They have a lot of respect for my game and a lot of respect for what I've been through in my career.
Question: Do you keep up with the Sixers, your old team, and how they're doing?
Allen Iverson: No. No. I mean, if I'm flicking through the channels and they're on, I'll watch any basketball game. But I don't keep up with that.
Question: Are you surprised with how well they're doing since the trade?
Allen Iverson: No. I played with those guys and I know they got heart, a lot of pride and a lot of character. They're not just going to lay down. I've been in wars with those guys and I know what type of character they have. And I'm not surprised that they're playing well. They're NBA basketball players, professionals. They got to act accordingly. I just wish them the best.
Question: Talk about the key, defense, playing better on that end.
Allen Iverson: We got to stop people. We go ahead and we score 100 points every night, but we give up more. Our whole thing was, we know we can score, and we have to start having some kind of fun on the defensive end. Everybody want to play offense. Not too many people want to play defense. Defense is ego, pride, and that's the way we've been coming out, just taking the challenge. Man-on-man first, and having each other's back when a guy gets beat.
Question: The impact you've had on Carmelo. Is it a big brother, little brother kind of thing?
Allen Iverson: First of all, I just look at it as him being a teammate of mine. Whenever you can help a teammate of yours, you try to give a hand, and I would hope that he would do the same for me. I'm older than him. I've been where he's at. I've been through all the ups and downs in my career. It's not like a thing where we come every day and I write on the chalkboard, 'today's subject is going to be this, Carmelo,' and me and him sit down and I teach him about this and that. He's a grown man. He just had a kid. He has a fiancee. He's got good people around him. All I want to do is be a positive influence to him, and help him when he need me. And I'm pretty sure he'll help me as well.
Question: How comforting is it having another guy on your team who can score just as easily as you do?
Allen Iverson: That's the best part. I was talking about that the other day. I had like 14 points and we won the game, in a blowout, 27 points. In Philadelphia we were 7-49 when I scored under 15 points. That was just a good feeling. That said a lot right there. And then the last game we had, I had a big game and he didn't need to have a big game. It's just been fun playing that way. Because people can't concentrate on me like they used to do. Can't double and triple-team me like they used to do. It's a different situation for me. It's just fun out there and I feel a little bit freer on the court.
Question: Considering Carmelo's suspension and your injury, are you pleased at where the team is right now?
Allen Iverson: Obviously I'm not satisfied because I think we can be better than we are right now. You win five games in a row, you get that type of swagger with you, and you feel you can't be beat. That's the way we have to approach games, regardless of who we're playing against, we got to feel like we're the better team, and go out there and try to execute what we do in practice. That's that. I feel like we can be as good as we want to be. With this team, you get us in a seven game series, you have to beat us four times. And that's the way I look at it.
Question: Talk about leaving Philadelphia.
Allen Iverson: I've been in Philadelphia 10 years, man. I knew it was going to be a challenge, mentally. I always thought life would come to an end if I ever left Philadelphia. And I feel like a newborn. Being in Denver it's just a better situation for me. And I'm just happy that I feel like I got an opportunity where I can win basketball games here.
Question: Do you have any regrets about the way things ended in Philadelphia?
Allen Iverson: I think I could have handled things a lot better. I think they could have handled things a lot better. But the situation is over and done with now, and I think people should just find out some way to just let it go. I wish them well and I honestly thank the organization and Pat Croce for drafting me and giving me an opportunity to be a household name. Without Philadelphia you wouldn't know A.I. all over the world, and those guys gave me an opportunity when I was there, they let me play my style of basketball. They just gave me a great opportunity. They gave me an opportunity to take care of my family. See parts of the world that I never thought I would see. So I owe a lot to the people in Philadelphia. And the fans, they were the best. They supported me through my ups and downs. And it's tough sometimes. I miss them. I flick through the channels and see the fans, see some people that I recognize on TV still at the games, and it's just different. When I first got to Denver, I be talking to my wife and sometimes I be like, 'Did you see us play tonight? Who do we play?' Still thinking we were in Philadelphia. It took a while to get out of my system, but it's out of there now.