Allen Iverson’s controversial Luka Doncic praise reignites debate

Matthew Legros
Allen Iverson (left) on the set of "The Big Podcast with Shaq," and Luka Doncic (right) on the court for the Dallas Mavericks.

NBA Hall-of-Famer Allen Iverson gave Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic major props in Thursday’s airing of “The Big Podcast with Shaq,” but his choice of words may have been too off color.

When identifying a player with that “it” factor, it takes one to unequivocally know one. Iverson had that as a part of his game and sees the same in Doncic.

Iverson linked up with his friend and former fierce competitor Shaquille O’Neal on the latter’s “The Big Podcast” and the topic shifted over to Doncic’s game.

No matter how high of a compliment it was, the comparison may have slighted other high-level Caucasian contributors in the process.

Allen Iverson lauds Luka Doncic’s swagger and dominance

Iverson commended Doncic for his ability to excel against the NBA field, and stated that the 2024 All-Star plays “like a black guy.”

Once the Philadelphia 76ers legend prefaced his comments by saying “I don’t want nobody to take this the wrong way,” O’Neal and show host Adam Lefkoe already knew where he was going:

“I’ll let you say it, because they’d probably kill me for it,” Iverson led with before assessing Doncic’s skills. “He’s so cool out there. I mean, everything’s just slow. Just major moves.”

O’Neal interjected by likening Iverson’s streetball comparison to Doncic having “swag.” Iverson agreed as he motioned to signify the grace with which the MVP candidate is able to handle the basketball and shoot the lights out.

All things considered, Doncic has a robust highlight package littered with him embarrassing defenders.

Doncic’s masterclass against Cam Johnson in the 2022 Western Conference semifinals alone shows just how crafty the Slovenian is as a walking highlight reel, per MFFL Nation on X/Twitter:

There’s no doubt that Doncic is one of the niftiest stars in the league. Albeit, Iverson’s adulation may have insinuated that other Caucasian players don’t possess the finesse aspect to their game.

That school of thought has permeated sports for decades. It’s been broken down more in recent years with fan favorites like Tyler Herro (Miami Heat), Alex Caruso (Chicago Bulls) and of late, Austin Reaves (Los Angeles Lakers) and Alperen Sengun (Houston Rockets) turning Bleacher Report and ESPN feeds upside down with breathtaking plays.

At the end of the day, Iverson was a maestro with the rock. His compliment was intended to be just that. None were offended on set and Doncic likely won’t be either, but exactly the opposite.

About The Author

Matthew graduated from Brooklyn College in 2022 with a Bachelor's degree in Communications. In the past, he's written for Heavy Sports, Sports Illustrated, and SB Nation. On top of penning scripts for Empire Sports Media, Matthew covers the latest NBA, NFL and Boxing news for Dexerto. His expertise lies in basketball, with a personal passion for track-and-field. You can contact him at