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Allen Iverson recycles iconic ‘practice’ rant in plea for social distancing

Thursday marked the 18th anniversary of Allen Iverson’s “practice” rant. To mark the occasion, the NBA legend repurposed the infamous diatribe to make a plea for social distancing.

Iverson took to Twitter late Thursday night and riffed on perhaps the most memorable press conference in professional sports history to promote one of the safety measures needed in the battle against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“We talkin about practicing social distancing!!!” Iverson wrote, adding the COVID-19 outbreak-themed hashtags #StayHome and #StaySafe.

The iconic tirade remains one of the most memorable off-the-court spectacles ever seen in the NBA, and for good reason, as the then-Sixer’s aversion to practice inspired him to use the word 22 times during the presser.

“We sitting in here — I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice,” Iverson said in part. “I mean, listen: We talking about practice. Not a game. Not a game. Not a game. We talking about practice…”

The anniversary of Iverson’s rant elicited a fascinating look back at the surreal scene in a writeup originally written in 2016 by Matt Walks of ESPN.

The mercurial star was accused of being drunk on that May 7, 2002 day in “Not a Game,” a 2015 Iverson biography written by Kent Babb. Iverson continues to deny that allegation to this day.

“Some were amused, and others watched the trainwreck unfold — knowing from experience that Iverson was drunk,” Babb wrote. “‘He was lit,’ said [Philadelphia Daily News’ John] Smallwood, who attended the conference. ‘If he had been sober, he would have been able to get himself out of that. He never would’ve gone down that path. Maybe you had to have been around him all the time to know the difference, but we all knew.'”

Regardless of the state of mind Iverson was in on that day 18 years ago, it’s great that he brought it out this week to send a very important message amid these uncertain times.