There have been insinuations that the NBA is worried about these kids, worried that they might be a bad influence. Iverson clearly is not worried.
"The NBA can't pick my friends," he says. "When I was struggling growing up, no running water in my house, the electric lights turned off, these were the guys who were with me. They grew up with me. I'm not going to turn my back on them now. Not many people were always angels as they grew up. These are the guys who won't always be telling me how great I am. They know me."
The conference call is done. He is talking with me, but he is also talking on a cellular phone with someone at Falk's office.
"Go ahead," he says. "Ask another question."
I point to the phone at his ear.
"No, that's all right," he says. "I'm on hold."
Do you remember a move from the first time you saw him play? One move that knocked you dead?
"The best probably was at the end of the half. Iverson was at the top of the key, everybody, cleared out, as the clock ticked down for the last shot. You know what I mean? Another rookie, Derek Fisher of the Lakers, was guarding him. Iverson started rocking, rocking—the Lakers had told Fisher in the scouting report that Iverson liked to go light—and now he faked left and Fisher still bit, and Iverson went past him to the right as if Fisher were a stone statue. The sellout crowd, the largest basketball crowd in the arena, went 'Ooooooh.' Iverson didn't even make the layup because he ran into Shaq in front of the basket. But the move was so good they showed it on the replay board. A replay of a miss. I remember that."
"I always figured I was going to go to one of those big football schools," Iverson says. "Florida State. Notre Dame. Football was my first love. Still is. I was going to go to one of those schools and play both. I just loved running the option, faking, throwing the ball, everything about football. I didn't even want to play basketball at first. I thought it was soft. My mother's the one who made me go to tryouts. I thank her forever. I came back and said, 'I like basketball, too.'
"When the trouble came, it seemed the basketball people were the ones who stayed interested. I went to Georgetown because it was the best thing for me to do at the time. Just play basketball. They didn't have any football, at least none that I wanted to play."