STEVE INSKEEP, host:
The basketball star Allen Iverson is changing teams. The Philadelphia 76ers traded him away in a multi-player deal. And he's on his way to Denver where, unlike in Philadelphia, recently, one of the games biggest stars might actually play.
Joining us now is Jemele Hill. She writes the Page 2 column for ESPN.com. Good morning.
Ms. JEMELE HILL (Columnist, ESPN.com): Good morning. How are you?
INSKEEP: Hey, could you just explain how it happened that Iverson has been on the bench the last couple of weeks in Philadelphia?
Ms. HILL: Well, he asked for a trade, and unlike in other leagues, I mean, in the NBA where a player, a star player asks for a trade, he usually gets it. And so Allen Iverson, after spending his entire career in Philadelphia, asked for a trade. The marriage has pretty much come to an end. And now, he is headed to Denver.
INSKEEP: And the 76ers said if you want to be on your way out, we don't want you on the court - even for a few more days.
Ms. HILL: Well, I don't know if it was that simple, just because they've been through a lot together. I think it was an amicable split. I just think that Allen had done all he could do for that franchise, and the franchise had done all they could do for him.
INSKEEP: Let's talk about some of what they've been through together. Allen Iverson is obviously a brilliant player, but with a little bit of a reputation. What is that reputation?
Ms. HILL: Well, his reputation has always been, sort of, a bad boy, or a term I hate to use, is thug. I think mostly, because he was very rough around the edges. He had a lot of street-balling when he first came into the league. And he just wasn't going to change and conform, take on a corporate image, because that was never him. And I think he had a great appeal at Philadelphia because he was so honest and raw. And certainly among - in the inner city, you know, Allen Iverson is a hero. And he is very beloved because he came from the inner city.
And he amounted to something that was even greater than he could have ever imagined. But along the way, bumps and bruises, you know, there was the infamous practice rant.
INSKEEP: What was that practice rant?
Ms. HILL: Well, the infamous practice rant when, I believe, Larry Brown was still the coach. And Larry Brown is very old school, and Allen is very new school. And so they often clashed with one another. And because they did, you know, he was asked about his performance in practice. And, you know, this is in a press conference. And he went in and he just like - practice? You know, we're talking about practice, not the game, but practice. And that's all there is the infamous statement that he made that is replayed constantly whenever people talked about him, as if he's denigrating practice.
And I don't think it was ever that, with Allen. I think it took him a long time to mature, and he's, you know, one of those guys who on the floor every night -when you pay to see him play, you are going to get your money's worth. But there are going to be times where he maybe late for a meeting, late for practice. In this particular case, we sort of preceded him asking for a trade. He missed a team function and was fined. And then he asked to be traded. I don't think it was about that particular incident, it was about them having just reached the point in their relationship where this is all they could do for one another.
INSKEEP: So the 76ers are off to a disastrous start to their season. They trade Iverson away for some talent, but also for some draft choices for the future. So they're looking toward the future. The Denver Nuggets, who get Iverson, must be thinking about right now.
Ms. HILL: Yeah, I think, this is a trade that works for both teams. I mean, in Denver's case, the brawl the other night between the Nuggets and the Knicks. Their best player, the leading scorer in the NBA, Carmelo Anthony, is suspended for 15 games. They could have, just literally sunk. I mean, you never know. So they trade and they get the second leading scorer in the NBA, and a phenomenal player. Never in the NBA history have you had two guys at one team averaging 30 points a game. So this is going to be very exciting for people who get to watch their games.
INSKEEP: Ms. Hill, thanks for getting up early with us this morning.
Ms. HILL: Well, thank you. I appreciate just having me.
INSKEEP: Jemele Hill is Page 2 columnist for ESPN.com and a writer for ESPN magazine. She joined us from Orlando, Florida.
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