Iverson on McKie: 'He was my teammate but it was on another level'
Allen Iverson was the centerpiece of the Sixers for the 10-plus years he was in Philadelphia. He made 11 All-Star teams, seven All-NBA teams, won four scoring titles and a league MVP award.
But he did not accomplish those things as a one-man band.
“Without my teammates none of this, the accomplishments I have had in my career, they would not have happened without those guys,” Iverson rightfully acknowledged during his retirement ceremony on Wednesday (see story). “Those guys set screens for me, they played hard for me and they were with me the whole way in allowing me to become a household name.”
Teammates came and went in Iverson’s 14-year career, but friendships were also made, and one such relationship in particular resonates with Iverson as special.
The question was simple: Which of your teammates stood out the most as a positive influence on you?
There was no hesitation in Iverson’s answer and it was wrapped in true, heartfelt gratitude.
“Aaron McKie,” Iverson said and he repeated the name three more times. “I mean he was my teammate but he was on another level. He was my teammate but he was my friend.”
Iverson paused long and hard in between his thoughts, fighting back tears.
“He helped me so much in my career,” Iverson continued. “I talk about the mistakes that I made in my career. I made a million of them, but if it weren’t for Aaron McKie I would have made two million of them. He is just somebody I always listened to and could talk to about anything.”
Iverson always has a way with words and the one million, two million comment brought laughter to a very emotional moment for him.
And in sharing a friendship with McKie, Iverson learned a life lesson: Stay open to new experiences.
“I had guys I grew up with that I loved and cared about and I have a lot of admiration and respect for them, but this is a guy that I met up here on the high level,” Iverson said. “People say once you get to that level you don’t want any more new friends. I don’t need them, I have enough of them. But don’t close that door because people like him do come along in life, and I just owe a lot to him.”
What Iverson feels for McKie is a two-way street.
“I have never had a problem expressing to him how I felt about a situation, something in a game or get here on time or do this, do that,” McKie said. “He knew I was going to be honest and respected that, and the thing that I respected was that he never really cared what people thought about him and never changed himself. I have a lot of respect for people who feel that way.”
Mutual respect and no regrets were the themes of Iverson’s retirement announcement. Throughout the course of The Answer fielding questions, there was clarity about the core of Iverson’s message.
“I am not wasting time thinking about if I go back in time because you can’t change it. It is what it is. This is who I am and I think I did pretty good with who and what I am,” McKie surmised.
Only the best of friends could have summed up A.I. in such a description.