Allen Iverson Press Conference Transcript
JOE DUMARS: We’re here to welcome Allen Iverson to the piston family. Just a few words here. This is a big day for us to be able to hold this event, but before I get started with Allen, I would be remiss if I didn’t say how much we appreciated what Chauncey Billups, (Antonio) McDyess and those guys did for us while they were here. Much love to those guys because they helped build the foundation here and they helped us become who we are today. With that, we couldn’t be more happy today than to be able to acquire Allen. We think he’s going to fit in with exactly what we stand for here. It’s all about winning, it’s all about being in the big dance at the end of the year and those are his goals along with ours. I don’t think we’re going to sit her today and make any grand promises, but the fact of the matter is everybody knows what our goals are and Allen will explain to you what his goals are and you’ll see that those goals go hand in hand together. We think this is a great fit, we think Allen represents what the Pistons represent, we think we can do good thingss, we think it’s going to be a seamless transition and I’m looking forward to seeing it unfold on the cour.
ALLEN IVERSON: I just want to first of all let the fans in Detroit know that I’m committed to bringing the championship back here. As far as on the basketball court, you will still be getting the same guy who’ll play every game like this is his last and a guy that will try to do things the right way. I know it’s a tough situation for my teammates, obviously losing a great player like Chauncey and Antonio McDyess, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be tough on (Carmelo Anthony) and (Kenyon Martin) and the rest of the guys in general. We created a great relationship on and off the basketball court. I’m pretty sure those guys are going to miss me and I’m going to miss them, but it’s time for us to move on and go in another direction and I just believe in my heart that I’ll be the guy to help us move forward along with the help of my teammates, coaching staff and family.
Q: You’ve played on some talented teams, but I don’t know that you’ve ever played on a team with this many capable scorers. How do you see that transition working for you and how you’ll fit within the framework of this offense?
IVERSON: I think it only can help. When I was in Philadelphia, I was double teamed, triple teamed a lot. With this squad, it will be hard for teams to get away with that, trying to take me out of the basketball game. It’s all about just being a basketball player and being willing to sacrifice whatever I have to sacrifice for the betterment of the team. When you look at how many offensive weapons we have on this squad, a lot of people might doubt, but it will show what type of basketball player I am and what type of team that we’re going to have as far as trying to create some chemistry. It might not be peaches and cream in the beginning but I’m pretty sure we can get it together and be a force to be reckoned with. I’m just looking forward to it. I love the fact that when you guys doubt me and say I can’t do something, that’s a big challenge that I look forward to in itself. I’m just looking forward to getting on the floor with my team and creating some chemistry on both ends of the basketball court.
Q: You touched on this a little bit, talking about it being a tough situation for some of the Pistons who have been together so long and the bond they had. What do you need to do to fit in with them and earn their trust that this was the right move?
IVERSON: The first thing is when we’re in the foxhole together and they look to the left and to the right and they see my face. That’s the most important thing, just for those guys to know. They know what I’m about. I’ve played against those guys for years. They know what I bring to the table and vice versa. But my whole thing is to go out on the basketball court and do what I’ve been doing my whole career, and that’s playing every game like it’s my last. I always felt like after a basketball game is over, you can look in the mirror and be proud if you gave everything you had. That’s what it’s been for my whole 13-year career. I always look in the mirror after a game and feel good about my effort, because I know I did everything I could to win. With a franchise like this and being in the Eastern Conference finals six years in a row, that was the makeup of this team. Those guys gave it everything they had night in and night out and with me being on this roster it will continue to be that way.
Q: Can you talk about how you’ve evolved as a player and a person during your time in the league?
IVERSON: I think I grew up a lot. I’m not the same 23-year-old Allen Iverson. I’m 33 now. I don’t do the same things I used to do. And if I was still doing those things, I’d be a damn fool. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned from my mistakes. I think being in Philadelphia helped me grow up as a person and a player. The reality of being traded opened my eyes even more. I have five kids now. I have my own basketball team now. I think my wife has helped me get better as a person and my surroundings – just having good people surrounding me and trying not to make the same mistake twice. I think I’m a lot better as a person and a player. On the basketball side of it, I think I’m better because I know the game a lot more than I did before. Early in my career I just played with my athletic ability and I didn’t think the game through. Now I use my athletic ability still, but I think the game a lot more, sort of like a John Stockton or Karl Malone, trying to be witty about everything I do and not trying to use my athletic ability and speed all the time.
Q: Joe, you just heard Allen say he plays every game like it’s his last. Is that the type of player you want in your organization?
DUMARS: Definitely. That’s what’s appealing about acquiring someone like Allen. As he alluded to, everybody knows what he’s about when he steps on the court. That has been very important for a long time, that guys step on the floor and give everything they have every night. It’s good for me to know we’re acquiring a player that you never have to worry about that with. You never have to worry about looking out on the floor and know that he’s giving it everything he has. This guy shows up every night and he’s done that for years. For me, sitting in this seat, it’s real comforting knowing you’ve got a guy like that.
Q: Allen, no one has to tell you that you’ve been a polarizing player for whatever reason. Despite the trade of two pretty beloved guys here, for the most part this trade has been really well-received here. Can you tell us what that means to have that kind of support right away>
IVERSON: That’s what it’s all about. The fans, they really make the game. The way their energy and the way they’re into the game, they hype us up even more. I can think of a lot of big games I’ve had scoring wise, and I can attribute 99 percent of that to the fans, just by them being in the game and cheering whether I’m at home or away. The way they get into a game, the way they’re involved in a game, they’re a big part of what we do on the basketball court. I know that fans will still continue to wish Chauncey and Antonio them well, because loyal fans are loyal fans. Once somebody says they’re a fan of yours, regardless of whether you go to another city, they still appreciate what you do. I’m pretty sure some fans in Detroit have changed their team … well, not changed their team. That might be their second-best team. Some guys in Denver may follow me out here and continue to appreciate what I do out on the basketball court. The biggest thing about being traded is you know somebody wants you. Obviously, the Detroit Pistons wanted me. And that’s the best thing for me and my family mentally, just to be embraced. That’s what you want more than anything. Before you even start to think about how well you’re going to play and getting adapted, you think about how the fans are going to react to it. And that’s what I’m looking forward to the most.
Q: A lot of people are going to draw comparisons to Boston last year with Garnett and Allen and where they were at at that stage of their careers. Do you see parallels between what happened in Boston and what might happen here?
IVERSON: I know the sky’s the limit for us. I wouldn’t compare it to that because we’re different type of players, but when you look at the roster, you see we can make a lot of things happen with the guys we have on this squad. That’s why I hope I was brought here. I want to be the piece that can get us over the hump. That would mean a lot to me in my career. I’ve done so many things in this league as far as being an All-Star, scoring champion, first-team All-NBA and things like that. But I haven’t accomplished my No. 1 goal and that’s to win a championship. Like I was telling Joe earlier today, I’m willing to sacrifice whatever I’m willing to sacrifice to get it done. I’ve tried it my way plenty of times. I’ve tried it different ways and it hasn’t been done. So, once again, that’s something I have to look at myself in the mirror and think of things I can do to help us win a championship. Maybe there’s some things I’ll have to change. But one thing’s for sure, I’m going to do whatever the coach wants me to do out there on the basketball court. If he gives me an assignment, I’ll just try to carry it out.
DUMARS: Even practice?