They say never meet your idols.
Luckily for Allen Iverson, he became an NBA legend like his idol Michael Jordan. But the Philadelphia 76ers institution revealed his first meeting with Jordan in 1997 was far from ideal in a sit-down interview with Complex.
“The first time I ever talked to him was that year, playing in the rookie game,” Iverson told the website. “I’ll never forget it, because he said, ‘What’s up, you little bitch?’ I’ll never forget it. I looked at him like … ‘All right, man.’”
It was just 32 days after that initial encounter that Iverson’s 76ers and Jordan’s Bulls squared off.
“I got a lot of flak from my teammates. They were teasing me, ‘You’re not going to play your game tonight, because you playing against your guy, you not going to come with it,’” Iverson said. “I was being this tough guy with them, but then I walked out there and saw him and …”
Iverson continued: “I was a fan — that’s what I’ve always been. I’m thinking he glowing or whatever and I’m looking down and I’m like, ‘Damn, he’s got on the Jordans.’ That was my guy, he was my hero, but once they threw that ball in the air, you going to remember 23 tonight like you always have, but when you leave here, you going to remember No. 3 too.”
That night Iverson made his first move toward greatness with a now-iconic crossover on Jordan.
It was Iverson’s first move toward his eventual career milestones of 11 NBA All-Star games, a two-time All-Star MVP, 2001 NBA MVP and a basketball Hall of Fame induction.
Iverson has said he didn’t think it was a big deal at the time, but kids still come up and ask him about it.
“I always knew when I got to the elite I was going to try my move on the best, so he was just a victim that night,” Iverson said of the move on Jordan.
“I remember one time I was telling him I went to Charlotte game and I was telling him how much he meant to me and how much I rocked with him and he said, ‘You wouldn’t have rocked with me like that because you wouldn’t have crossed me like that.’”
Iverson was the No. 1 draft pick for the 76ers in 1996 and played in the city for a decade before being traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2006. He also played for the Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies before finishing where he started — in Philadelphia.