Allen Iverson’s abhorrence for practice is as well-known as his lethal crossover. So it’s a mystery how the six-foot guard became one of the greatest scorers the league has ever seen. His bodyguard for five years revealed how The Answer managed to be as dominant as he was without spending hours on end in a gym.
In the book “Only the Strong Survive: The Odyssey of Allen Iverson” by Larry Platt, Terry Royster, Iverson’s bodyguard from 1997 to early 2002, claimed he had never seen the Philadelphia 76ers icon pump iron nor spend long nights in a basketball gym trying to perfect his jump shot. According to Royster, Iverson worked on his game by visualizing what he’ll do to his opponent.
“Let me tell you about Allen’s workouts,” says Terry Royster. “All the time I’ve been with him, I never seen him lift a weight or stand there and shoot jumper after jumper. Instead, we’ll be on our way to the game and he’ll be quiet as hell. Finally, he’ll say, ‘You know how I usually cross my man over and take it into the lane and pull up? Well, tonight, I’m gonna cross him over and then take a step back and fade away. I’m gonna kill ’em with it all night long.’ And damned if he don’t do just that. See, that’s his workout, when he’s just sitting there, thinking. That’s him working on his game.”
Whether you believe Royster or not, it makes for an interesting story. And it’s consistent with Iverson’s reputation as a practice hater. We’ve heard stories of Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan as the first one in and the last one out of practice. On the flip side of the coin, there are also Iverson stories where the guard didn’t even show up for practice.
Treatment and imagination
Royster’s inside information is cool, but it still fails to answer the question: why was Iverson so good if he didn’t sweat it out in the gym? There has to be at least a rehearsal of some sort. One cannot just imagine what he’ll do and execute it perfectly.
Iverson himself revealed his workout regimen. Yes, he did not lift weights, claiming they were too heavy. But he did spend ample time getting treatment.
“I would get treatment, though. I would try to heal. I would try to get my body ready in order to play. I see now these guys are sitting out and stuff like that, I never thought that could ever happen,” Iverson said.
Another peek into Iverson’s ritual still doesn’t answer the question of why he was so good. Perhaps this mystery should be left unanswered to preserve our sanity.