Sports » Sports Feature

Iverson and Randolph: Ready to Lead?

AI and Z-Bo in their own words.



A pair of new Memphis Grizzlies — you’ve heard of Allen Iverson and Zach Randolph? — were introduced to the Memphis media Monday afternoon at FedExForum. Iverson, it should be noted, wore a headband to the press conference. The season, it would appear, cannot start soon enough. A few highlights:

Randolph, on joining such a young roster: “It’s gonna be good. Coach [Lionel Hollins] is going to put us in the right spots, and we’ll work it out. It’s gonna be good.”

Iverson, on a team needing an attitude to succeed: “It’s definitely important. The most important thing is having an identity. How are we going to play, night in and night out? Give the fans something to expect, from game to game. For me, it’s playing hard every night, whether or not you win. You can feel good about yourself as a player, and as a team.”


Iverson, on body language: “It comes from leadership. Once you see bad body language, you’ll get bad results. This is something I’ll be concentrating on in training camp and throughout the season: good body language.”

Iverson, on teaching from experience: “It’s just believing. It’s easy to stereotype a squad, once you’ve been losing for a while and get accustomed to losing. You start to believe everything that people say about you, and your confidence level goes out the window. You get used to losing. The most important thing is believing in yourself, believing in your teammates and the coaching staff, and fans coming out to support you.”

Randolph, on closing the gap in a tough Western Conference: “Coming out every night, giving 100 percent. Listen to the coaches, chemistry, moving the ball, and focusing on the defensive end. We have a lot of scorers; if we can get the chemistry right, I think we can surprise a lot of people.”

Iverson, on leading a team with very little experience: “That’s the fun part about it. Usually, I’ve been the young guy on the squad; now, I’m the veteran. I have a bigger voice than I’ve ever had before, doing the things I’ve done in my career. I get a chance to lead guys places they’ve never been before, and to give them something they’ve never had.”

Iverson, on handling losing streaks: “You have to take things one game at a time. Don’t concentrate on what happened before. Concentrate on this game, right now, what we have to accomplish. I’ve been on losing squads and I’ve been on winning squads. If things don’t go your way, it’s easy to become a losing team.”

Iverson, on donning a Grizzlies uniform and playing in Memphis: “It’s God’s will. That’s the way it goes. You get obstacles, and you have to overcome them. Obviously, He wouldn’t give them to you if He didn’t believe you can. It felt good to put on the uniform, mostly because I got my number [3] back. I feel like myself again.”

Randolph, on learning of Iverson’s signing with Memphis: “It was great. I’ve known him a long time. To get an All-Star, one of the best players in the game ... it’s a good move.”

Randolph, on a season of redemption and proving his critics wrong: “I’ve always had to prove people wrong, so it really isn’t a surprise. It’s time to win. You know, I haven’t won since Portland [in 2002-03], so whatever it takes. Sacrifices will have to be made.”

Iverson, on his decision to sign with Memphis being “personal”: “I think some people took it wrong when I said it was personal. I meant getting back to being me again, having fun. Last season wasn’t fun for me, it wasn’t fun for my family and fans. Having fun on the basketball court, giving it everything I have, and being appreciated.”

Iverson, on criticism: “There’s always going to be something. I understand that; that’s who I am. I don’t care how many records I break, or what I accomplish individually. All my incentives in my contract are team-oriented goals, and that was important to me. If we don’t win and I score a lot, then I’ve scored too much. If we don’t win and I don’t score that much, then I haven’t scored enough. It’s a lose-lose situation. The only way I can think of to shut everybody up is to win.”

Iverson, on Randolph’s game: “He can do anything on a basketball court. He’s going to give you ten [points] and ten [rebounds] waking up in the morning. His game is so different because he’s big, and can take the ball outside. And he plays with his heart. That’s what I respect the most. Believing in himself.”

Iverson, on potential for a “train wreck” season: “I wouldn’t think people are crazy for feeling that way. People will have their opinion, and they’ll voice their negative opinion before saying anything positive. Negativity sells more than positive. And that should bring a lot out of us, to prove the nay sayers wrong.”

Randolph, on the rest of the Grizzlies roster: “I see a lot of talent. We’ve got some young guys. O.J. [Mayo], Rudy [Gay], Marc [Gasol]. But we can surprise a lot of people. Coach Hollins is going to be tough on us. He’ll keep it real. We’ve got to put it all together.”

Iverson, on the Grizzlies being underrated: “It’s hard to win in this league. Without chemistry, it’s not going to happen. When I went to the Finals [in 2001], I thought I’d be going back two or three more times. But the chemistry wasn’t there. You’ve got to have everyone on the same page, with the same ultimate goal. You’ve got to have a lot of unselfishness.”

Iverson, on the development of young players: “When it comes to young athletes, all your life you haven’t had anything, then all of a sudden you’re a millionaire, and you get a bunch of yes-men around you, telling you your stuff don’t stink. You have people telling you everything you want to hear. You’ve got the girls, the fame. So winning isn’t really that important to you, because you have so many things that you never had before. It’s enough to just be playing in an NBA basketball game. Even with me, my first couple of years, we didn’t win, but I was Rookie of the Year, and I got to play against Michael Jordan. But after a while, you see teams making it to the next level, and you see the playoffs are a whole different game. You want to solidify yourself as one of the greatest players. The only way is to win basketball games.”

Iverson, on the Grizzlies’ captaincy: “That’s something I want, something I want to accomplish. I just want to lead. I want to be something people think I can’t be. Having young guys following my lead. Seeing me do it the right way.”

Iverson, on coming off the bench: “I’ve never looked at myself as a sixth man. Never envisioned myself as a sixth man. Never heard of Allen Iverson as a sixth man until last year. Yes, I can [be a sixth man]. Honestly, that’s not something I want to do. I’ve been a starter my whole life. On the basketball court, I pretty much can accomplish anything.”

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