Allen Iverson: “I’m The Greatest Player Ever”



Allen Iverson will have his number retired on Saturday night here in Philadelphia, and the folks are coming out in droves to pay their respects to ‘The Answer.’

Iverson’s former head coach and current SMU coach Larry Brown, sat down with Bryant Gumbel and HBO Sports to talk about Iverson and the painful pleasure it was for Brown to coach him.

Brown told Gumbel that when Iverson came to visit his Mustangs a few weeks ago, Iverson was asked who the greatest player in NBA history was.

Iverson as only he can, answered “himself.”

Bryant Gumbel: “When’s the last time you talked to him?”

Larry Brown: “He was here about a month ago. He spoke to our team, Bryant, and it was the most unbelievable talk I’ve ever heard. Our kids were spellbound. And he was so open and honest with ‘em. He talked about the good things he did and the things he’d like to change, which weren’t a lot. But the one thing that stuck out in my mind, one of the kids said, ‘Who’s the best player to ever play?’ Who do you think he said?”

Bryant Gumbel: “Himself.”

Larry Brown: “Allen Iverson. And he said, ‘I’m not disrespecting Michael [Jordan] or Magic [Johnson] or Julius Erving or any of those guys.’ He said, ‘I couldn’t have done what I did at my size if I didn’t feel that way.’”

I’m a known Iverson apologist, so I’ll digress from agreeing this time.


  1. AI proclaiming himself as the “best player ever” doesn’t surprise me, nor does it surprise me that many of his fans think so, too. AI was a scorer, and he did hustle in games…I will give him that. But “greatest player”? Not even close….definitely not among the top 20, and perhaps not even in the top 50. Some people in Philly actually have the nerve to compare him to Dr. J. I saw the Dr., and he did things that AI couldn’t dream about. I once saw the Dr. go over 2 players, leave the floor 22 feet away from the basket near the sideline, and dunk with room to spare. Dr. J had moves beyond comprehension. Not only could he score at will, both inside and outside, but shot over .500 for his career. In 11 seasons at Philly, the Sixers made the playoffs all 11, were over .500 all 11, were over 50 wins 7 times, and over 60 twice. AI’s teams had one 50+ win season, and well under 500 in 5 of his 10 years in Philly. Yes, AI won a few tight games. He also lost way more of them. Many a time I saw him “blow it” and refuse to pass to an open player and then miss a desperate shot on his own instead…not things that Doc, Kobe, Michael, Wilt, Kareem, Lebron, etc. would do. AI always was about AI, and he affirmed that in his famous “too good to practice” speech, which reflected his true attitude as a player. By the way, Doc never missed practice………………..

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