PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Michael Jordan has, arguably, more of a cultural impact that any other athlete ever. Allen Iverson, a cultural icon of his own during his time in the NBA, is a close second.
Jordan, who typically remains reserved on social issues, spoke out this week regarding the recent shootings in America and contributed $1 million to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
AI praised MJ on Tuesday, and shared his thoughts on these social issues as well.
“Everybody already know he’s my hero,” Iverson told the 94WIP Josh Innes Show of Jordan. “And a lot of times, some people — for whatever reason — don’t get involved and that’s their choice. That’s their choice to be able to choose to do something or not do something. But the great thing about it is, he did do something and he does matter to the world. And people do care about what he say and how he feel about different topics in the world and it was just a great feeling to see that he did something. And obviously, for him to have to come out and say something and make a statement that means it’s definitely out of control man. It’s definitely getting out of control.”
Iverson, 41, is hosting a celebrity Gala on Thursday, August 4th followed by a celebrity basketball game on August 5th at the Liacouras Center to raise money for the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia and the iChooseLife Foundation (buy tickets here).
AI gave his thoughts on the recent violence plaguing the United States.
“I’ve been watching TV, I’ve been seeing a lot of this stuff going on and it’s truly sad,” Iverson said. “It’s sad for just the regular citizens out here in the world and it’s sad for the police officers as well. Because they got a tough job, every day night in and night out. They’re here to protect us. Not every cop is a bad cop and we gonna definitely need them to progress in society. So, I just think hopefully everything just gets better. Hopefully we’ve seen the worst of it and it will just get better and better.
“It’s important if my voice matters,” he continued. “If my voice don’t matter, it doesn’t mean anything. The only thing that I want to put out there is all positivity. I know all black lives matter, all lives matter. It’s just important for us to take care of each other too. It’s just not the problem with the law enforcement, it’s us in society getting along with each other as well. This is a great lesson for all of us and the most important thing in this whole matter is just us moving forward. The most important thing is not going backwards, as long as we go forward and progress then we’ll be alright.”
Iverson’s words are especially significant because when he was in high school in Virginia, Iverson was controversially convicted for his role in a 1993 bowling alley brawl against white students. The incident spurred racial tensions in the town as only Iverson and his black friends were charged, although punches were thrown by both parties. The brawl allegedly began because of racial remarks directed toward Iverson and his friends, from the white students.
Iverson was originally sentenced to 15 years in prison, but was pardoned and released from custody after four months. Iverson, however, says he never had any resentment or animosity towards law enforcement.
“I never felt that way because I didn’t look at the fact that everybody from Virginia did that to me,” Iverson explained. “I felt that it was a select few people that chose to put me in a situation that they put me in and that was that. I can’t get mad at every police officer, every judge, every prosecutor because of what somebody else did to me. Blame it on somebody else? That’s not right. That was an easy process for me to handle. I understood the people that were involved, the major players that put me through what they put me through and that’s that. At the end of it, I ended up overcoming it all. I stayed strong, I believed in my faith, I kept moving forward, I believed in my family and the people that I had surrounded me and I was able to put it behind me.”
As for AI’s charity Gala and basketball game, the guest list is action packed.
“I guarantee it will be worth everyone’s while,” Iverson said of the event. “It’ll be funny and it will definitely be fun.”
Here is the expected guest list:
Isaiah Thomas (Gala Speaker)
Bryshere Y. Gray- Yazz/Empire
Aaron McKie Jahlil Beats
Julius “Dr. J” Erving
Stephen Jackson-former NBA star
Frank Knuckles- The Roots
Damon Bryson- The Roots