“Fair to say you like contact?”
How do you feel after games? Are you sore or anything?
No. I feel great. I could go play again right now if I wanted to.
That exchange between reporters and Colton Iverson after the Celtics’ win over the Pacers at the Orlando Summer Pro League pretty much sums him up. Simple. Funny. Self-Aware. If he’s going to make this team and carve out an NBA career, there’s only one way for him to do it.
“I’m going to give it all I get every possession. I don’t have the best offensive game, and obviously Kelly’s a very talented scorer and you can see that every game he’s putting up big numbers and so I just gotta do the dirty work… get rebounds, get stops… just not let anyone score on me, play good team defense and make the hustle plays.”
Iverson spent about 20 minutes on the floor against the Pacers, scoring 5 points, grabbing 4 rebounds, committing 5 fouls. He’s committed 13 fouls in 49:25 of Summer League play, or almost one every four minutes.
It’s a good thing you can’t foul out in this league.
But that’s Iverson. He’s not shying away from it. In fact, he really seems to enjoy it.
“That’s the way I play. Even if I was averaging 20 points a game, I’d still play physical. Kinda nasty or whatever you want to say. I know guys don’t like going against me, so I take pride in that.”
Teams didn’t really think much of him until late in the school year, and during the combine. As much as we talk about Kelly Olynyk, Iverson was as good or better in some categories at the combine. And the full-speed, full-contact style of play we’re seeing this week in Orlando helped get him on the board in some NBA war rooms on draft night.
“That’s how I got noticed, my hustle. People always say I go 110% all the time even in practice, drills, everything. Workouts… that’s just the way I go. I take everything in a game-like situation.”
He’s goes hard. All day. Every day. Amazingly, he says he’s come out of all his battles unscathed. He doesn’t ice unless the team forces him to. And he’s never missed a game or practice. But in a “you should see the other guy” way, he said of his opponents:
“I’ve broken a few bones.”
Of course, he wasn’t tracked by teams from the beginning for a reason. And every so often, some of that shows on the court. For example, on Monday, when he was all alone, jumping for a ball that damn near scraped the rafters after an opponent missed a dunk. The ball slipped through his hands, and bounced off his head. His teammates cracked up on the bench. So did he, actually.
“I just played it off like I was trying to make a soccer move and head butt it backwards for an outlet pass. I think that as long as I’m laughing at myself, it makes it easier.”
Simple, funny, and self-aware. Iverson knows who he is, and can both laugh at himself while also maximizing the talents he has. If this was hockey, he’d be your enforcer. I wouldn’t be surprised if the got into a scrap or two along the way. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he enjoyed it.