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“It’s never easy for an unbelievable talent like Allen to play for someone like me” — Larry Brown on coaching Allen Iverson

AI showed a lot of love and respect, pointing out that accepting Brown's criticism was “when I turned from Allen Iverson a good basketball player, to a Hall-of-Famer.”
Allen Iverson describes the impact Larry Brown had on his career

Larry Brown and Allen Iverson

When Larry Brown was appointed as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in 1997, he crossed paths with a young and exceptionally talented Allen Iverson. Like any other coach-player relationship, Brown and Iverson’s wasn’t always smooth. If anything, it was turbulent. Nevertheless, Brown reckoned his time with AI will always have a special place in his heart.

Ups and downs

Brown made his coaching debut in the 1960s. Needless to say, he was already a tenured coach when he arrived in Philly. As confident as he was about his profession, Brown admitted that dealing with a player like Iverson was no walk in the park.

It’s made me a better person and showed me how to deal with kids in a different way…It never was easy, but when you understand what he went through... It’s going to be really special,” Brown said in 2016 via CBS News Philadelphia.

As we can all remember, Iverson did everything his way. On the other hand, Brown liked to enforce a strategic approach on the court. As expected, there were several clashes. However, Brown said one thing that he and AI never lost was their “respect” for each other.

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There were things that he did that drove me crazy, off of the court,” he added. “But there was never a lack of respect... It’s never easy for an unbelievable talent like Allen to play for someone like me. I think at the end of the day we both realized how we both benefited from our relationship.

The feeling is mutual

Iverson and the Sixers took off in the 2000-01 NBA season. Under Brown’s tutelage, Philly finished the season as the best team in the East. It was the year “The Answer” rightfully won his first and lone MVP award.

It’s totally understandable if some would say that was meant to be, as it was Iverson’s apex. However, the man himself admitted that Brown played a huge role in it as the coach was vital for his overall maturity as a player.

The change came in 2000, and I thought he [Brown] was criticizing me, and I couldn’t accept constructive criticism,” Iverson said. “When I started to realize he loved me and [wanted] what is best for me and the team, that is when I turned from Allen Iverson a good basketball player, to a Hall-of-Famer.

Brown and Iverson reached the NBA Finals once but failed to bring the championship back to Philly. Nevertheless, they proved to everyone that a team could still achieve something great despite conflicts as long as there was respect.

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