Allen Iverson thanked everybody and their mama in his Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Speech. It was one of the longest, yet inspirational and heartfelt speeches in the history of Hall of Fame speeches.
Iverson thanked the usual; mom, dad, his nana who passed away, various family and friends, coaches but, then he went on to thank, by name, kids he attended elementary school with, high school teachers, his homeboys from around the way, Pookie, Ray Ray, Jug Head, etc.
He also thanked Biggie, Redman, Jadakiss, Tupac, and Michael Jackson, for providing the theme music to his career.
Heck, I was half-way expecting to hear my name, since I did meet him once, at the at The Cheesecake Factory at Cumberland Mall in Atlanta. It was a few years ago and to be totally honest I didn’t know who he was. I simply saw a group of guys playing cards at a high top table in the middle of a very busy restaurant on Fourth of July weekend. Yes, I did say playing cards, in a restaurant. I don’t know what card game they were playing but, when we walked in they were laughing, talking shit and having a great time.
We sat at the bar and ate our meal and when we asked for our bill the bartender said it had been paid. So, I texted my daughter and said, “Some guy just paid for our lunch. I think he is famous.” My daughter asked what his name was and what he looked like. I responded that I heard his friend call him AI and he has lots of tattoos with his hair in cornrows. She sent me a photo of a guy in a 76ers jersey and I confirmed that was the guy. She thought I was an idiot and proceeded to say so, to her 15,000 close friends on Instagram and Twitter.
OK, I knew who the great Allen Iverson was, I just didn’t recognize him and certainly didn’t expect him to be that guy playing cards in The Cheesecake Factory at the mall.
But, let’s get back to that speech. If I were to dissect it and rate each part I would have to give the top rating to two parts. One was the part where he thanked his wife, in detail, for all of the things she did to encourage and support him and called her a Hall of Famer for helping to make him a better player, a better man, and a better father. That part almost brought me to tears.
But, my favorite part was when he thanked his haters. Like the saying goes, his haters became his motivators. And when he thanked the people who are no longer his friends by saying “Thank you for blowing your cover. If I make any new friends I will know what to look for.”
Now, on behalf of all the real people in the world, I would like to thank you, Allen Iverson, for always keeping it real.