At today's news conference in Toronto announcing the finalists for the 2016 induction class into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, Allen Iverson, Shaq, Yao Ming, Kevin Johnson and the other potential inductees were all smiles.
In a room of all time greats like George Gervin, Oscar Roberston, Bill Russell, Isiah Thomas, Spencer Haywood, Tiny Archibald, Jerry Colangelo and many others, the finalists couldn't stop smiling.
But that didn't stop Allen Iverson from telling everyone in the room, that at one point, he wasn't quite certain how his NBA career would turn out. Never lacking confidence, and never having been destroyed on the basketball court before, it seemed that The Answer had pleanty of questions after playing the Phoenix Suns and matching up with their point guard extraordinaire for the very first time.
"I was in the locker room after that game crying," said Iverson. "I was literally in tears. My coach, Maurice Cheeks came up to me afterwards and said, 'Allen, don't worry, the time will come where you will be giving the opposing guard 36 points, nine assists and nine rebounds a night. That's what KJ did to me that night. Look it up."
A.I. must really have been shaken up, because the official stat sheet says that KJ, who did smoke him that night like Cheech and Chong, merely busted him down to the white meat to the tune of 36 points, eight assists, three rebounds and two steals. But nevertheless, the point here is stunning.
There comes a time, even for an all-time great, where you get served up. It happens to the best of them.
Johnson, who is now the Mayor of Sacramento, California, says that payback was eventually a motherjumber. At the end of his career, KJ admits that an A.I. crossover buckled his knees and led him into retirement.
"When he ran by my after making that layup and patted me on the back," said Johnson, "I knew that it was time to move on."
Who knew, though, before he became The Answer that Allen Iverson was once brought to tears by somebody gave him the business.
KJ was a Hall of Fame finalist last year and wasn't voted in. Yo, when you make Allen Iverson cry, by putting HIM through the blender, that dude deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
The Finalists for induction into the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame Class are as follows:
Lefty Driesell, College Coach
Darrell Garretson, NBA Referee
Robert Hughes, High School Coach
Allen Iverson, Player
Tom Izzo, College Coach
Kevin Johnson, Player
John McLendon, College Coach
Shaquille O'Neal, Player
Bo Ryan, College Coach
Eddie Sutton, College Coach
Sheryl Swoopes, Player
MuffetMcGraw, College Coach
Leta Andrews, High School Coach
1954-1958 Wayland Baptist University, Team