“He Plays Like A Black Guy” – Allen Iverson Praises Luka Doncic For His Swagger & Style Of Play

Allen Iverson
The Big Podcast with Shaq

Allen Iverson has such a way with words. So does Luka Doncic for that matter, especially since English isn’t even his first language. I never would’ve thought that, among all the players in the modern NBA, AI would most closely compare himself to Luka. Here we are, though.

Beyond their mutual gift of gab, you can see where Iverson is coming from when he goes deeper on Luka’s approach to the game, which he did recently on The Big Podcast with Shaquille O’Neal. The following transcription is edited for conciseness and clarity, wherein Shaq asks AI who in the league reminds him the most of himself.

“Everybody says Ja [Morant]. But man, let me talk about this guy: What the hell is wrong with Luka? …I’m talking about his style…It’s kind of like street ball… I don’t want nobody to take this the wrong way. He moves at his own pace, right, but I wasn’t gonna say that…

He plays like a black guy… he got swag. There you go. He got swag… he’s so cool out there. Everything just slow, he makes major moves, and the wet ball. I mean, he shoots the blood out of that thing.”


Only AI.

This feels like one of those moments analogous to when a broadcaster just stays silent and lets the real-time action unfold, usually to a massive crowd shaking the earth with their collective pandemonium. What more can a mere writer like myself add to Iverson’s words in this instance? OK fine. I’ll try.

It scares me a little that some in the younger generations might not be that well-acquainted with Allen Iverson. He was often the smallest man on the court who played with the biggest competitive heart. AI dragged a Philadelphia 76ers squad to the NBA Finals that had no business being there. Before those Sixers succumbed to the Shaq-Kobe Lakers, Iverson led them to a big upset win in Game 1, with a legendary, post-make step-over maneuver at the expense of future NBA head coach Tyronn Lue.

It just so happens that the above video is from Bleacher Report. How cool! My first professional employer.

Fun personal fact that I swear links up to Allen Iverson: Back in the earlier B/R days, there was a little survey you filled out to create your sportswriter’s profile. Stuff like “most unbreakable sports record” and “favorite team.” One of the prompts was “all-time favorite sports moment.” And part of me was being a cheeky early-20-something, but part of me was sincere when I gave my answer.

THE Answer, that is, was as follows: “Allen Iverson’s practice rant.”

I feel a little sheepish about that, because it’s overshadowed AI’s Hall of Fame career to some degree. Nevertheless, we’re here, talking about how great Iverson is at talking, and he was in rare form on this particular occasion. That’s putting it so lightly.

In my humble opinion, it’s the greatest press conference of all-time.

Upon further review, AI even got into his “practice” bit with Shaq, so now I feel zero remorse for celebrating it in so many words.

Just like Iverson was pound-for-pound one of the greatest basketball players to ever do it, those moments in time comprised the best pound-for-pound podium performance I’ve ever seen.

How’s this to tie it all together, Luka included? Another way Luka is similar to Iverson is in his Give-A-Eff-O-Meter during unserious competitive situations, such as a casual practice during AI’s era, or in the NBA during the year 2024, the straight-up joke that the All-Star Game has become:

Despite their vastly different sizes and approaches to the game, Luka and AI played with a similar feisty demeanor and were great at leading their teammates. Both were ball-dominant, could get on absolute heaters and score in bunches. Iverson’s heyday was prior to the 3-point line becoming so prominent, and rule changes in the intervening years have made NBA games much higher-scoring, as has the influx of unprecedented skill and international talent. It would’ve been amazing to see AI compete in the social media era, not to mention how he might’ve adjusted his style of play if he had teammates capable of knocking down 3-pointers.

Additionally, concepts like load management and minutes restrictions weren’t really things that applied to Iverson. After that run to the 2001 NBA Finals where he also won MVP, AI averaged 31.4 points and a career-high 43.7 minutes per contest in the 2001-02 regular season. The next year, he averaged 42.5 minutes and played in all 82 games. Out of a burning desire to compete, sure, and out of necessity to keep the Sixers competitive.

Luka can’t get enough basketball, either. He loves playing for his native Slovenia in international competition during the NBA offseason. Already in the midst of sixth season in the Association, at the age of 24, Luka currently leads the league in points per game (34.3) and third in assists (9.6). Let’s hope that the Dallas Mavericks give Luka enough help, unlike Philly did for AI, to ensure that he gets at least one championship. Luka has the chance to be one of, perhaps, the 10 greatest players ever if he wins multiple titles. He has so much career in front of him, and now we know for sure that AI is fired up to see it all unfold.

Now that we’ve covered Luka getting his flowers from a true great of a bygone basketball era, here’s a little run of recent Luka anecdotes to cap things off for one of the supreme superstars in the sport today.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock