Allen Iverson and Dawn Staley have a natural bond. The South Carolina coach is a Philadelphia native who spent her college career at Virginia, while the NBA legend is a Virginia native who made his name with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Iverson joins Staley on the season finale of the NetLife podcast, admitting to the South Carolina coach that he was nervous the first time the two met.
“All I remember was being so nervous because, first of all, you were always on my TV being from Virginia, and you played for Virginia. That’s how, ultimately, you became my favorite women’s basketball player of all time,” Allen tells Staley. “I just remember the first time I met you…trying not to look too excited, trying to keep my cool like the first time I met Mike.”
The feeling was certainly mutual, with Staley telling Iverson that the Philadelphia community “identified with” him.
Iverson also reveals that Michael Jordan was who he looked up to on the men’s side of the game.
“Michael Jordan is obviously my hero. He’s my guide, he’s my everything, he gave me the vision, he made me want to play basketball,” Iverson says. “I actually wanted to be like Mike.”
Derrick Coleman also served as a mentor to Iverson, who he played with as a rookie entering the NBA. “Derrick Coleman was it for me,” Iverson tells Staley. “I would be up under him just like a little brother. Anything that he did, I would do.”
After Coleman took Iverson under his wing, Iverson struck up a tight friendship with 76ers teammate Arron McKie.
“Aaron McKie is the best friend that I’ve ever had in the NBA,” Iverson says. “Aaron McKie was everything to me.”
Calling him the “big brother that I never had,” Iverson admits that coach Larry Brown would employ McKie to talk with him since he’d listen intently to his teammate on and off the court.
For more on Iverson’s time in the NBA, listen to the latest episode of the NetLife podcast.