Allen Iverson played 10 full seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers and faced off against the Boston Celtics dozens of times. He knew better than anyone how bitter the rivalry was between Philly and Boston in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but he learned that the hard way after foolishly trusting a Celtics ball boy with a $2,000 beer run.
The Celtics knocked Allen Iverson and the 76ers out of the 2002 playoffs
By the 2002 postseason, Iverson had already established himself as an undeniable superstar in the NBA. A.I. had just capped off a regular season in which he led the league in scoring for the third time in the last four years, and he was coming off his iconic 2001 playoff run that ended in a defeat to Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
But this 76ers team wasn’t the same as the previous year’s squad.
After finishing the regular season as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Sixers got a date with the No. 3 seed and their hated rival, the Celtics, in the first round of the playoffs. It was a fair fight for the first four games of the series as both teams held serve on their home court. But the Celtics dominated Game 5 in Boston, 120-87, and closed out the series at home.
Iverson averaged 30.0 points per game on 38.1% shooting in the series, but no other 76er managed more than 12.8 points per game. It was a disappointing performance after making it all the way to the championship series a year prior.
Allen Iverson gave a Celtics ball boy $2,000 to buy beer for the disheartened 76ers
The 76ers were understandably down in the dumps after getting laughed off the court in a win-or-go-home Game 5 against their biggest rival, but Iverson knew exactly how to cheer everyone up. He wanted to buy beer for the entire team for their trip back to Philly, so he summoned a Celtics ball boy and gave him “close to $2,000” for an epic beer run.
That ball boy just so happened to be Chris Mannix, who is now a senior writer for Sports Illustrated. Mannix once told the hilarious story of what happened to Iverson’s $2,000 on that fateful night, and it’s safe to say A.I. never trusted a rival’s ball boy after that experience.
A.I. learned the hard way not to trust the enemy
As Mannix explained on Sports Illustrated’s Off the Record in 2019, per MassLive, he took Iverson’s $2,000 to the closest liquor store and stocked up on as many cases of beer as he could buy. But on his trek back to the arena, Boston fans passing by on the street started picking cases off the hand truck one by one. When Mannix got back to the parking lot, even a few Celtics players grabbed some beer of their own.
By the time the ball boy-turned-reporter made it back to Iverson and the 76ers, only four cases of Corona remained.
“[Iverson] goes, ‘That’s what my money bought you?'” Mannix said, per MassLive. “That’s what $2,000 bought you?'”
Mannix didn’t know what to say, but A.I. was surprisingly forgiving.
“I think he was just in such a foul mood that he didn’t really argue,” Mannix said. “As long as there was something on that bus for him, he took it.”
We know Iverson had no problem spending money during his NBA career, so he must not have been too worried about a mere $2,000 that night.