Tag Archives: Allen Iverson

The Journey Of Fulfillment: A Conversation With Stephon Marbury

By David Jordan Jr

Cover Photo Shot By Beto “Mooncricket” Lopez http://www.mooncricketfilms.com/ @Mooncricket

 

The journey of life is something that a person can either deny, try to change or embrace. Everybody’s journey is different but the final destination is what will ultimately define the person. Stephon Xavier Marbury has had the ultimate journey as not only a basketball player but as a person. Stephon, a Native of Coney Island, New York was born into his destiny. The “Next” in the line of basketball greatness in the Marbury family and the New York lineage of great point guards, Stephon climbed through the ranks of New York City basketball as a phenom at Abraham Lincoln High School (yes the same Lincoln with Jesus Shuttlesworth in Spike Lee’s 1998 film “He Got Game”) where he would win Mr. Basketball for the state of New York after his senior season and was named a McDonald’s All American (1995). Taking his talents to Georgia Tech in the fall of 1995, Stephon electrified the college basketball world as a freshman, leading the Yellow Jackets to the 1996 NCAA Tournament and winning multiple individual awards including being named third team All American. For Stephon, the next step in his journey was the league, a.k.a. the NBA. A lottery pick in the illustrious 1996 NBA Draft Class (considered by many to be the greatest draft class of all time) Stephon embarked upon a thirteen year NBA career in which he would win All Rookie honors, All NBA honors, be named an NBA All Star and become an Olympian. As with any journey, ups and downs are present but with the appearance of downs, the only way to catapult is upward. Stephon began his international playing career in China in 2010 and has enjoyed the fruits of faith, patience and hard work as he has changed not only the basketball climate in China, but the entire culture. Spreading love and being love is what Stephon has done and China has reciprocated the love in many actions. A movie, a museum, a musical, a postage stamp, being named an ambassador and even a statue have all been given to China as a show of love for him as a not only a player, but a person. ESHE Magazine recently spoke with Stephon in Los Angeles during his preparation for his final season of professional basketball. Stephon discussed his life journey, his career, his newly released movie “My Other Home” and the relaunch of his Starbury Brand and the new partnership with Citi Trends.

David Jordan Jr: You’re entering your 20th season of professional basketball; talk about this journey from coming up in a basketball family as a little kid with dreams of playing basketball on the biggest stage and accomplishing your goals and achieving tremendous success at each level. In high school at Lincoln, collegiately at Georgia Tech, in the NBA, in the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) and on the Olympic level?

Stephon X. Marbury: It’s been an amazing journey. For me to come from a basketball family, three older brothers and a younger brother, I had an advantage that a lot of others kids didn’t have because of coming from a basketball family. I knew other things that other players didn’t know. This is how longevity and being able to play for so long has lasted. The physical part of the game goes but so far; the knowledge always continues to increase. Leaving going to play basketball in China, playing in the NBA, It’s all the ball, it’s the globe. Me being able to find success in China was a part of the journey; all I had to experience playing basketball in America. The NBA was my learning curve. I got an opportunity to go through so many different challenges before I won one championship that I never stopped going for what I wanted and that was to win a championship and seeking and searching to do that and the NBA was the best teacher, the greatest platform that any player can have the experience to learn and everything has been a learning process. A lot of people witnessed and watched and had their opinions and their views on what they feel, what you should do and what you shouldn’t do, how you should play and how you shouldn’t play but through my beliefs and my trust and beliefs in my ability as a basketball I got an opportunity to go through so many different challenges before I won one championship that I never stopped going for what I wanted and that was to win a championship and seeking and searching to do that and the NBA was the best teacher, the greatest platform that any player can have the experience to learn and everything has been a learning process. I stayed consistent in believing in what I knew I was and that was a CHAMPION. For me to look at all the different steps in high school, high school to college, college to NBA and the NBA to China, it’s all a journey.

David Jordan Jr: Besides having the amazing natural GOD given talent, I think being from New York and going to what my friends and I call Point Guard U, Georgia Tech University has had a tremendous effect on you being such a great point guard. Your older brothers Eric, Donnie, Jou Jou, younger brother Zack, Pearl Washington, Mark Jackson Kenny Anderson, great guards from New York before you and coach Bobby Cremins and the great guards he had at Georgia Tech before you, how did these factors influence your career?

Stephon X. Marbury: Growing up in New York and playing basketball in Coney Island, you always knew who was who. You knew the guards, you knew the nice players, but I never really thought about it. I always thought of me as being one of the guards coming from New York because all of the guards are different. I took a lot of all of their games and put that in my game. I did a lot of that, and being able to know the heritage of all of those guards it pushed you to be better and to really go for it. That was my motivation. I knew a lot of the guards from New York couldn’t jump. It was not really that many that could jump. I jump higher than all of them. It was already go for it. That was my motivation. I knew a lot of the guards from New York couldn’t jump. It was not really that many that could jump. I jump higher than all of them. It was already instilled and taught to me as a little kid to be a little guy that could fly. That separates you on the court from all of the other guards. That’s what separates Westbrook, he can dunk, he’s 6’5 though. I’m 6’1, A.I. is six-foot. It’s no science. I can’t dunk like the way I used to and have no desire to. I have so much respect for Derrick Rose because that guy, he messed his knees up bad playing and came right back. That takes an unbelievable type of will to come back from the injuries that he had. A lot of it is freak, accident, a lot of it is how he’s been training. But for myself when I see these type of guards and I know these guards exist, I look at it and say wow here we have these kids who are super talented, amazing abilities but they don’t play like how we played back then. We came in playing against players like Jordan and Oakley, real bruisers, real different players. The guys that can play, you know those guys right away; like Westbrook. I don’t agree when you say Lebron couldn’t play with the big boys; I’m a Kobe guy but Lebron can play with any generation.

David Jordan Jr: You’re a part of the 1996 Draft Class, which I consider to be the best draft class of all time. Coming into the NBA after your freshmen year of college, what was the most important piece of advice you got your rookie year that has helped you throughout your career and who was it from?

Stephon X. Marbury: I got so much advice from everybody. I was a sponge. I was just trying to be the best that I could be. Flip Saunders was the person that taught me the NBA game. You can make the NBA but not everybody can play the NBA game; they can play basketball but the playing the game is not as easy as people think. It’s not just getting on the court and playing. In order to score 20 points every night for 10 years straight, that takes a lot of work to do that, to play like that, to have that style.

David Jordan Jr: Consistency is so underrated. You have people that will get awestruck when one person has one big game but it’s really about being able to do it every night.

Stephon X. Marbury: If you’re not able to do it every night, you’re not doing anything. You knew when you watched NBA games back in the day, you knew who was going to come off the bench and play the same way every night. The nice players are the nice players. If you watched the game and saw the ball swing, you already knew whoever was taking that corner shot it was going in because they were wide open. Guys miss wide open shots and nobody is there. Why can’t he make that shot and he’s playing in the NBA making that much money? The truth is a lot of these kids don’t have the same attitude that we had. When we played we knew we were going to make money. You got some dudes that get the money and seem to quit working. They don’t even play consistent anymore. You don’t have a great year, sign a contract, comeback as healthy as an ox and you don’t play games? You can have a bad two, three games, but you can’t have a bad month! (Laughs) You ain’t shooting the ball good but by games 4 or 5 you should be making adjustments in the gym, shooting more, a lot of different things should have been happening to get your game on track. It’s a job, it’s a J.O.B. and it pays. You’re supposed to go hard no matter what. If you’re going to get on the court, even if you’re playing pickup you have to play hard. I see dudes not playing hard. I’d rather get beat than reach and everybody get penalized on defense. IF you get beat, you get beat. I see dudes not getting back on D’ but then want the ball when the ball is advanced.

David Jordan Jr: During your NBA career you had the opportunity to play for two of the most legendary teams in the league, the Boston Celtics and your hometown New York Knicks. When playing for the Celtics did you feel the Boston “Mystique” that everybody speaks of?

Stephon X. Marbury: INSTANTLY. When you walk in there and see all of those championships, the culture and pride is winning championships there and when they don’t win championships they are mad and gear up for another year. The authenticity of the Boston fans, who they are speaks volumes. From baseball, basketball, hockey it’s all of that inside the city. You get an opportunity to see that, feel that, hear it, embrace it. I told somebody the other day that Boston helped me win championships. That was the final piece of what I needed to win a championship. I was in such a bad place when in New York and when I went to Boston it was like, amazing. I got a chance to be on a team that had just won a championship and they believed that I had the ability to help them. That was one thing that helped me revitalize and get jumped started. I got to Boston, New York froze me out all the way until the deadline. I didn’t get my timing back until the playoffs and we lost to the Magic. That’s when I had finally got my legs back but by then we weren’t playing as well and Orlando was playing really good and went to the finals that year. We didn’t have enough but I felt myself coming on and when I was there having that experience and knowing what championship play felt like on the court and being in that arena, it propelled me in China like crazy.

David Jordan Jr: How did it feel to put on a Knicks jersey and play at the Garden? You played at The Garden in high school and also when you were at Georgia Tech but how did it feel to play at The Garden as a Knick?

Stephon X. Marbury: Nothing like it. When I first came to New York IT WAS ON. I TURNED NEW YORK OUT! But you gotta win in New York. You don’t win, it’s coming. I had different things that went on and made things worse, the ups and downs and losing, it was a lot. I learned a lot from New York. The experience of being in a situation where you don’t get the opportunity to play in your hometown. That was a blow. I didn’t want to leave New York, but they wanted to go in another direction which was fine.

David Jordan Jr: You began your international playing career in China in 2010. In seven years of playing and living in China, you’ve not only had success on the court, but you’ve had such a tremendous influence on the culture. GOD allows adversity into our lives, yet he blesses us with double and that is what he has done for you in China. From championships to individual awards, being on a postage stamp, being made an ambassador to Beijing and being immortalized with a statue in from of the Arena in which you won a championship, how has the success you’ve received playing in China coupled with the pure love you’ve received from the fans affected your life? Does it seem like a dream at times?

Stephon X. Marbury: It’s all GOD’s plan. It’s all his doing. I don’t have anything to do with it to be honest. When I look at all what has been done and I see it, it was a part of what was supposed to happen. I was supposed to go through everything I went through. A reporter asked me do I have any regrets and I said “No I Don’t.” What has been going on in my life has been amazing. What’s been going on in my life has been part of my journey, part of what’s going to happen and when I look at China, I look at China as this is what the Lord wanted everybody to see. This wasn’t what I planned. I didn’t plan that; being my China is not what I thought I would be doing. I ain’t have no clue of what was going on when it was going on. I was just riding the wave, I wasn’t getting up off of it. They tried to get me to come back play in the NBA after the first championship but I was like I’m GOOD. I’m going to stay here and keep trying to win some more championships because I like statues outside the arena and I know ain’t no statues going up in America, maybe in Coney Island but no statues going up outside no arena no matter how many championships you win. How it happened was even crazier. It was all a part of his doing. I don’t really take any credit for it. I Look at it how you look at it. I’m living and these things are happening. The type of things that go on, it’s amazing to be able to share that experience.

David Jordan Jr: Your Biopic “My Other Home” debuted this August. Before that, you starred in your own musical “I Am Marbury.” Talk about how it was to have a film created about your life and how was it recreating different moments of your life and seeing them on the big screen.

Stephon X. Marbury: That’s a good question. It was difficult doing the role because I couldn’t play myself; I was playing a character and that part was a little confusing to me because it is me, it’s about me but this is what you have to learn. After we finished shooting that movie we created a genre in China that nobody has ever done before. Doing it was crazy because I had to do a crying scene where I had to basically read my lines and speak and talk about my father dying and that part was the best part. People ask me what was the best part of the movie and I say that was the best part. That was the realest part period. To do it, to act it out, to be able to stay focused and staying in tune with the craft of acting, it was really difficult. I had to go into a dark place for two days to prepare for it and I shot the crying scene in one take.
Nobody knew that I could act. I knew I could do it. I didn’t think it would be hard to learn, but it’s harder than you think. The acting part is not the hard part, it’s remember the lines and those long ass monologues. Those monologues drive you crazy. I HAD A GREAT ACTING COACH, which was the number one ever doing that and being able to do that gave me great confidence. As time went on after I did the crying scene the movie went so smooth after that. People will see the movie in America.

David Jordan Jr: People are talking and asking when will the movie come to the states.

Stephon X. Marbury: It’s going to come. The best part about it is that is in Chinese and English so that both audiences are satisfied. English subtitles for the Chinese parts and Chinese subtitles for the English parts.

David Jordan Jr: I want to congratulate you on the relaunching of the Starbury Brand. In recent years so many people in sports and entertainment have begun launching their own brands, but you were the first having started Starbury in 2006. You did it with a pure motive of creating style, comfort and affordability for fans, sneakerheads and families. Talk about the beginnings and how you’ve been able to relaunch on an international level, something that many companies aspire to, yet you’re starting as a global product and how the new partnership with Citi Trends has all played a part into where the brand is now.

Photo Shot By Beto “Mooncricket” Lopez http://www.mooncricketfilms.com/ (Twitter @Mooncricket)

Stephon X. Marbury: As you said it’s purely motivated on trying to allow people to have access. Access for all is our motto. That’s what we’re doing and what we’ve been trying to do, which has been very difficult and hard. A lot of people are asking us why are you in here or why this, why that and I’m like Trust me I want to be in Walmart, I want to be in Kohl’s, I want to be in all of the outlets. But trying to get in it was so trying and challenging but Citi Trends gave us a shot and allowed us to get back into the game. Citi Trends has 500 stores, Steve & Barry’s had 150 stores at the time so we tried to put ourselves in a position where we were able to just continue to allow people to buy something at an affordable price and being able to create stuff that looks good, feels good and stuff that people would feel good about buying. That’s numeral uno. That’s what it’s about. It’s simple. We just trying to keep building it. We have other products that are coming out. We’re going to start selling electronics. We’re able to create these items for people to buy at an affordable price and being that I live in China and have access to all of the factories it just makes sense. People will support you if you create an affordable product. We’re just trying to become a part of people’s lives. It’s like my mother says “It’s one thing when you want something Stephon, but it’s another thing when you need it. When you need it, It’s different. We want a lot of stuff but we need water, we need shoes, we need clothes to be on our backside to walk on the earth and we’re able to create something that they can buy an affordable price and they like it and it’s cool. It should be in these stores.

David Jordan Jr: How has social media and being able to interact with your fans all over the world played a major part in everything. You’re one of the few celebrities that always engages with people and I think that creates and fosters relationships with people because you make yourself accessible. How has social media influenced everything that you are continuing to do?

Photo Shot By Beto “Mooncricket” Lopez http://www.mooncricketfilms.com/ (Twitter @Mooncricket)

Stephon X. Marbury: Social media has been my marketing. It’s so easy now. Not only is it easy but it’s so many platforms. The platforms give you that opportunity. You don’t have to 80 million people following. I mean it’s nice, but if you have the right people following you, 80 million people will get the message. Social media is a business. You can buy a million followers but the real organic fans are the people that push your message. I use social media for what it is; as a platform to engage, think, talk, share. It’s not about making a lot of people follow us. If somebody wants something that you’re selling, they’re going to go buy it. If it’s hot, they’re going to talk about it, they’re going to share it, it’s organic. You can’t beat it. Real is going to always pop out.

David Jordan Jr: With this being your last season of playing professional basketball what will be two things you miss the most about playing?

Stephon X. Marbury: The fans and winning. Being on the court playing and winning. For me they’re like “you got three championships why are you still playing?” I’m still able to do something that a lot of people can’t do at my age; I’M WINNING. I’m 40 years old and I’m still busting young dudes ass. Like killing them, like cannot check me nowhere on the court and I know it, and he know it. Why would I stop doing that if I can still do that. People ask me about the Big 3; I’m not opposed to playing in it. It’s going to the Olympics. For me I’m looking at it like I’m retiring from playing professionally but I did my thing 21 years last one of the draft class, ’96 THE BEST CLASS EVER. It’s an honor to play with some of the greatest player to play basketball. Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Steve Nash. Its’ like three dudes that got four MVPs in that group. It’s sick. Everybody had it all the way through. Everybody hooped. Peja Stojaković, Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, Samaki Walker, John Wallace, Vitaly Potapenko, Lorenzen Wright, Derek Fisher.

David Jordan Jr: Word Association. Tell me the 1st thing that comes to your mind.

David Jordan Jr: Basketball

Stephon X. Marbury: LOVE

David Jordan Jr: GOD

Stephon X. Marbury: LOVE

David Jordan Jr: STARBURY

Stephon X. Marbury: LOVE

David Jordan Jr: Allen Iverson

Stephon X. Marbury: The best player under 6’0 EVER.

David Jordan Jr: China

Stephon X. Marbury: HOME

Photo Shot By Beto “Mooncricket” Lopez http://www.mooncricketfilms.com/ (Twitter @Mooncricket)

 

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From Newport News to Springfield

By David Jordan Jr

Today the Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame will immortalize Allen Iverson forever with his induction into the greatest basketball fraternity ever. “The Answer” played every game like it was his last and played the game his way. All out, full of confidence and overflowing with passion and enthusiasm, Allen Iverson transcended the game of basketball not only with his talent, but with his aura. His approach to the game was simple; KILL. Each time Iverson stepped on the court, it was understood that his opponent was in for a long night and was subject to become a highlight on SportsCenter.LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 19:  Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during an NBA game against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19, 1996 at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1996 NBAE (Photo by Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images) The God given talent was visible to anybody that had the privilege to watch him play, yet it was his passion for the game which truly connected us all to him. “The Answer” is 6’0 ( and that’s a stretch) and played between 160 and 165lbs, yet it was his exploits at this size that showed the world that anything is possible. Bethel High School provided the launching pad for greatness. It was at Bethel High where Allen first burst onto the national scene not only as a basketball prodigy but also as a phenomenal quarterback for Bethel’s football team, leading both the football and basketball team’s to state championships in the same year. We all know the events which took place during his high school years which could have derailed his life or permanently silenced Allen Iverson to the world, but his triumph over adversity is what makes his success inspiring. In an interview Iverson a few years ago said the things he encountered were because “God said go through it” and that he never questioned the things God allowed to happen in his life.88904377 God often gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers and through everything Allen Iverson has proven to be one of the toughest soldiers on earth.
Georgetown University and Men’s basketball coach John Thompson provided the perfect (and only) opportunity for Iverson to fully blossom on the court and to develop as a man. Thompson realized not only the enormous talent which Iverson possessed, but he also understood all of the things both good and bad that would be before Allen on the court and off the court and he prepared him for those things during his two years at Georgetown. Upon entering the NBA, his way of playing was not embraced by all of his peers and critics alike. The labels given to him not only for his on court play early in his career and his off court persona were unfairly given to him, yet it was his not conforming to what other people thought he should be that enabled Allen to connect with the world on a massive level. The braids, the tatts, the ice and the authenticity were things that in the late 90s and early 2000s were not embraced by many; fast forward to 2016 and each of the aforementioned things you see in the game of basketball across the world. Before Allen Iverson’s arrival into the NBA you couldn’t create a player on a video game with corn rows or tattoos and you definitely did not see a player in any sport tatted up as the poster boy for a video game series (Shout out to NBA 2K for making Allen Iverson their cover guy for the first five installments of their video game series). AllenIVerson2K
Authenticity in A.I. could also be seen in one of the greatest sneaker commercials ever; “The A5” was brought to the world with Jadakiss and trackmasters in a hip hop inspired Rebook shoe commercial that shook up the world and connected hip and basketball on another level.tumbm9qzzqhufh1qkeg17o1_500 Basketball and hip hop have always been intertwined with each other, but the best player in the world joining forces with one of the top lyricists in the world proved to be the perfect combo. Interviews with Allen Iverson over the years contain the same authenticity and sincerity; true words, real feelings and a sense of self are consistent in all of his interactions with the world. The things which some people did not like or couldn’t accept about Allen Iverson are the very things which enabled him to transcend the game of basketball on the court and the way many people carry themselves and live their lives off of the court. Twenty years ago a person with tattoos and cornrows would standout as being totally different from the norm, yet today you will find people from all walks of life in all professions and of all ethnicicites sporting corn rows with bodies adorned in tattoos.2015Äê5ÔÂ22ÈÕ£¬°¬¸¥É­¾Ü¾ø³öϯÎ÷°²»î¶¯£¬ÏÖ³¡ÇòÃÔʧÍûÍ´¿Þ¡£ Iverson wore braids because he wanted to and got tattoos because he wanted to; the world followed suit beacuse he showed us all that there is nothing wrong with being yourself. The Allen Iverson effect is much bigger than basketball; basketball provided a stage for him to perform and it also gave the world a window into the man he is and how it is essentially priceless to be true to oneself. Congratulations on the enshrinement A.I. #TheAnswerekP6ZQ

Hoyas.1996

By David Jordan Jr

(Played in cadence by the Georgetown University Band) Bom.Bom.Bom…BOM BOM BOM BOM.BOM.Bom.BOM BOM BOM BOM, Tip off. This was ritual in 1996. The Capital Centre. Landover, Maryland. Georgetown Hoyas home basketball games. The 1995-1996 Georgetown Hoyas basketball team was one of the greatest, most talented teams to have ever have been coached by Coach John Thompson, Jr.allen-iverson-georgetown-air-jordan-11-concord1 The greatness of this team is not marked by their mere accomplishments alone; this team was great due to not only how they played, but also in the ways this team won games and the teams this Hoyas team dismantled throughout that memorable season. Starting the 1995-96 season out ranked #5 in the country in the Pre-Season AP Poll, the Hoyas would remain in the top 10 through the first 3 months of the season and drop no lower than 14th in the AP Poll, finishing the season ranked #4 in the country in the final AP Poll. 24page450_mediumA team fueled by an imposing defensive presence, the intensity and heart with which this team played with was always present to any viewer that watched them play; whether it was a non conference December ( during Christmas Break) game against Morgan State or a pivotal Big East game against nationally ranked UCONN, these Hoyas brought the same effort and focus nightly, from the starting team captain all the way down to the non scholar shipped walk on. Seeing these games was something to marvel at but each impacting player had the own unique contribution to this team. The wisdom of human interaction and basketball wisdom from not only Coach Thompson but his entire coaching staff enabled this team to come together to pursue the ultimate prize; the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball championship.
To fully understand the dynamics which created the run for that season, one has to have a complete understanding of how Georgetown University basketball came to be Georgetown basketball. 12 years prior to 1996 the Hoyas had won the 1984 NCAA Championship with legendary big man Patrick Ewing manning the post and leading the Hoyas to a victory over the University of Houston and their star center Akeem (later Hakeem) Olajuwon.163293195 This victory not only gave Georgetown University it’s first NCAA Championship (and to date its only NCAA Championship) but this victory also made Coach John Thompson Jr the first black coach to win a NCAA Championship. The time period which this happened was extremely impacting as it allowed for not only a positive light to shine in a city which was being plagued by many different adverse occurrences due to crime and the drug epidemic of the mid 80’s but Thompson’s prominence as a pivotal figure in Men’s college basketball helped him to further establish a foundation for which greatness could always be accessible. A strong black man that sought to make a difference in the lives of his player not only on the court, but most importantly off of the court weighed significantly in the minds of those that would choose to come play for Georgetown University in the following years. A life education, which included time on the basketball court is what Coach John Thompson provided to his players.234744 (1) In the years after the 1984 NCAA Championship, Thompson would have three other teams either reach the title game (1985) or the Elite 8 (1987,1989) but the other teams went no further. The biggest stars of those teams in those years would range from Michael Jackson, Reggie Williams, Alonzo Mourning to Dikembe Mutombo. Team that were exceptionally talented but did not always play to the expectations that preceded them. Every program goes through it’s years of expectations being lofted, whether they were met or not, and with this fact, each season provided an opportunity for Georgetown to be not only as good as the expectations set for them, but to be better then the expectations set for them.
In the fall of 1992 a pillar of the 1995-96 Hoyas team would arrive on the Georgetown campus as the #1 ranked player coming out of high school.237273 Othella Harrington, an exceptional post player from Jackson,Mississippi (Murrah High School) and the next big man in the line of paint controlling players which had come to Georgetown University. A staple of the teams from the 1992-1993 season through his Senior Season in 1995-96, Harrington was not only a consistent option and presence in the paint for the Hoyas, but he also provided extended voice and reasoning of coach Thompson, was evident during the games not only on the sidelines, but also during game play and in on court huddles. Captain was an undeniable role for Othella Harrington on this 1996 team as his experience and leadership enabled him to provide insight and balance for this otherwise young team. The other captain of this ’96 Hoyas team was forward Jerome Williams (later to become the Junk Yard Dog or J.Y.D.) known for not only his high energy and enthusiasm, but also for his high socks which made him stand out even more on the top of the full court press.238634 Williams could always be counted on for changing the pace of the game when Coach Thompson decided it was time to turn up the pressure. Although Jerome wasn’t a first option, he still provided scoring that was timely and essential to the Hoyas attack on the offensive end. Whether it was countless deflections, guarding multiple positions of the opposing team or simply providing a timely smile and reassurance to his Hoya teammates, Williams provided the equilibrium needed to keep the Hoyas pushing forward.
Allen Iverson. All World. All American. The Answer. The engine which made the team go to new heights.georgetown-stuff_1cgga2bi3bczl143x6zxxd3jsh Allen Iverson’s arrival at Georgetown University in the fall of 1994 signaled the “changing of the guard” as his style of play aided in the the restructuring of the style of play which Georgetown had traditionally played; as an inside to outside team, to a team that utilized it’s exceptional guard play to be the catalyst for its success. A great coach adjusts to his talent and this is what Coach Thompson did with the arrival of Allen Iverson. Iverson, an electric guard with an amazing ability to not only score the ball, but to create his own shot was also a dynamic defensive player as well, as he won the defensive player of the year in the Big East his freshman year. A remarkable feat for somebody that was a relatively small guard in a conference traditionally dominated by big men and big guards.classic-photo Iverson’s freshman year averages of 20 points per game, 4.5 assists per game and 3 steals per game were only a prelude to the historic things he would do in his sophomore year, 1995-1996.
Victor Page. If you simply saw Victor Page playing and were not told that he was a Freshman by classification, you would not think he was a freshman by his on court play. A product from Southeast D.C., Page played his high school ball at McKinley Technology High School, leading his team to the DC Championship and earning many individual honors and accolades, among them Washington Post All Metro Basketball Player of the Year.tumblr_m9uujhGZHq1qzc69yo1_500-458x630 Teaming in the Hoya backcourt with Allen Iverson, Page provided another unstoppable dose of offensive power. A smooth left handed stroke, leap frog like jumping ability and tenacity on the defensive end made Page and Iverson and nightmare for opposing backcourts on both the offensive and defensive sides of the court. Also note, Victor Page went on to win the Most Valuable Player of the Big East Conference Tournament in 1996, as a freshman.
The other parts of the team which enabled the greatness of this Hoyas team to happen may not have necessarily been celebrated in the press as much as their more notable teammates, but nonetheless they were as important. Sophomore big man Jahidi White provided the Hoyas with an interior presence that kept other teams honest and as the team progressed in the 1996 NCAA Tournament,310634 Jahidi’s role on the team began to increase on the offensive end as well as he provided another option for the team to use in addition to Iverson’s offensive prowess. Cheikh “Ya-Ya” Dia, Boubacar Aw and Joseph Touomou provided a stabilizing effect for the team whether as occassional starters or pivotal subs, maintaining momentum and dominance established by the starters or providing an inspirational boost with their hustle and game swinging made shots. Touomou always a guy that provided an extra spark defensively off of the bench when Iverson needed a breather and easily disrupted opposing teams offense with his defensive pressure on the ball. 79856134All of these players were molded together by Coach Thompson and played on one string to be a total anchor in a season where they competed against many of the top teams in the country night in and night out. Victories over Villanova, UCONN, University Of Memphis, Syracuse and Georgia Tech, teams which were compromised of All American and future NBA lottery picks solidified the great cohesion of the players playing for Coach Thompson.234108

One of the most notable things about this team had nothing to do with their on court efforts; it had everything to do with how they looked playing the game. Stepping on the court at the beginning of the season in the Nike Air Way Up1993: Georgetown Hoyas' Allen Iverson #3 jumps for a layup during a game. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Allen Iverson (a shoe that was worn by Scottie Pippen during that 95-96 NBA Season) and then making the smooth transition into the Air Jordan XI, then called the “Patent Leather” Jordans by many at the time these shoes transcended not only the game because of the players they were associated with, but also because of how they were worn. They were a few games in which the players, notably Jerome Williams, Victor Page and Allen Iverson did wear the Nike Air Zoom Flight (shoe of Jason Kidd)pc1xqou14pw5jq4axkmb but the one common staple of the season was the Air Jordan XI. Making the shoe even fresher was how Allen Iverson wore the shoe with the all black McDavid Ankle Braces with no shocks showing, taking the black socks trend set by the Fab Five from Michigan to the next level with black ankle braces becoming fashionable for the high school and middle school kids playing basketball at the time.96510574 Add the kente style uniforms which the team had started wearing in the prior season, the fashionable style of this team was matched by their on court prowess.
The season was marked with key games, both victories and losses over other great teams in college basketball that year. Playing nine top 25 ranked teams, with many players that would later be drafted in arguably the greatest NBA Draft Class Ever (1996) the Hoyas were more than battle tested and proven against any and all. Madison Square Garden seemed to fuel the Hoyas to play not only their best basketball but also was home to some of there toughest, unforeseen losses; whether it was the 81-91 loss to Arizona in the Pre-Season N.I.T. Championship game which saw Iverson score 40 points in the finale or the heart breaking loss to Ray Allen and UCONN in the Big East Championship on a last second, twisted heave from Allen, all of these moments made for some of the memorable instances from this season 20 years ago.ray-allen-1996-big-east-championship
The Hoyas finished the season undefeated at home, going 16-0 and despite the loss in the conference championship game, the Hoyas were heavy favorites going into the 1996 NCAA Tournament to make in to the final four. Crusing past Mississippi Valley State University (a.k.a. Jerry Rice University) in the opening round95670724, the Hoyas defeated New Mexico and Texas Techin route to an Elite 8 Matchup with #1 Ranked UMASS coached by John Calipari and led by College Basketball Player Of The Year, Marcus Camby. A battle from the start, the Hoyas, never shy in effort could never get on a roll to carry Coach Thompson to another Final Four as their season ended that day in Atlanta at The Georgia Dome. One game short of the Final Four, the Hoyas left an indelible mark on the program, but also on college basketball and on the generation of player which came along during that time and after.238980 Many times greatness is not only measure in wins and losses but also in impact and this Hoyas team from 20 years ago left a legacy that is still standing strong in the world of basketball today.