Michael Jordan Had Flagrant & Foul Words For Allen Iverson When They Met (Video)
On Wednesday, March 12, 1997, an NBA rookie named Allen Iverson accumulated an early pro career highlight when he crossed up his hero, Michael Jordan while driving to the lane (embedded below). The Philadelphia 76ers ultimately ended up losing to the Chicago Bulls in their third of four meetings that season.
While the Sixers missed the playoffs that year, their first overall pick, named “Rookie Of The Year,” became a new face for a struggling franchise. By the 2000-2001 season, A.I. and his squad became Eastern Conference champions. Meanwhile, Michael Jordan was named league MVP in ’96-’97 and led his team to its fifth championship that decade. He would grab another one before he was done.
The point guard known as “The Answer” idolized Michael Jordan, like so many lovers of the game. He even praised Mike when Allen was inducted into the NBA Hall Of Fame in 2016. On Sportscenter last year, Iverson explained why Michael Jordan still holds onto that ’97 defensive miscue. “I went to a Charlotte game [recently]. I live in Charlotte,” said Iverson. “Me and him was in the back, and we was talking. I was telling him how much I loved him and admired him, and telling him how much he was my hero. And, he was like ‘Well, I couldn’t have been too much of a hero to you, if you crossed me like that.'”
In a new development in the story, Allen Iverson reveals that M.J. may have made the first foul. While the two remain friends to this day, the MVP was not above some mind-tricks on the Philly rookie. The second Sixers game of the ’96-’97 season was in Chicago. However, the two did ever exchange words that game, or the next, in December. It was not until the Rookie Game that year during All-Star at Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio that Jordan addressed A.I.
In an in-depth conversation with Complex‘s Speedy Morman, Allen shares a story about Jordan’s first and everlasting words to the young player. “I got a lot of flack from my teammates because they [were] like basically teasing me, ‘Yo, you’re not gonna play your game tonight, huh? ‘Cause you’re playin’ against your guy. You’re not gonna come widd’it, huh?’ So I was being this tough-guy with them. But then I walked out there and saw [Michael Jordan and I became] a fan. That’s what I’ve always been,” he says at 5:30. “Now I’m thinkin’ he’s glowing or whatever, and I’m lookin’ down, like, ‘Damn, he got on the Jordans.'” He continues, “I’m put on the wristband [like him], ’cause that’s my guy. That’s my hero. But once they [threw the jump ball] in the air [it became] ‘You gonna remember [number] 23 tonight like you always have. But when you leave here, you gonna remember 3 too.”
Iverson says he and his hero did not speak before that game or the second faceoff. “The first time that I ever talked to him was that year, playin’ in the rookie game. [Laughs] I’ll never forget it ’cause he said, ‘What’s up, you little b*tch?’ [Laughs] I’ll never forget it. I looked at him like aiight, man.” Morman asks what Iverson said in response. “Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.” A.I. shares the same Charlotte Hornets sideline story that he told SC last year. He says his crossover was not a deliberate response. “I always knew when I got to the league I was gonna try my move on the best. So, he was just a victim that night.”
In the interview, Iverson also recalls meeting Biggie Smalls in Los Angeles, California. The Rap superstar was hoping to get some pairs of A.I.’s Reebok shoe, The Question. Biggie was accompanied by Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s Lil’ Cease and group manager, D-Roc, at the time. Just days later, Allen’s mother drove to tell him that his friend had been murdered.
Notably, the crossover against Jordan happened just three days following that tragic news.
#BonusBeat: A.I’s famed crossover: