In basketball, it’s the first step that can help you can by a defender, and former Philadelphia 76ers great Allen Iverson had one of the best first steps in NBA history. Along with his speed and athleticism, Iverson’s first step helped him to score over 24,000 points in his career and got him inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame.
Eagles rookie wideout DeVonta Smith, like Iverson, has an excellent first step and is off to a decent start. Last week against the Chiefs, Smith had his first 100-yard receiving game with seven catches and 122 yards, and he leads the team in receptions and yards.
On Friday, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni compared Smith’s first step to Iverson.
“Yeah, I always consider the jab at the first point of the line of scrimmage,” Sirianni said. “And I think this will resonate with Philadelphia fans, that any time I teach a wide receiver how to release off the line of scrimmage, I have an Allen Iverson clip ready to go.
“And because it’s very much like a crossover. So why was Allen Iverson – I know this is like, ‘Man, why is he talking about basketball?’ Why was Allen Iverson good at the crossover? One thing, and you hear him say this all the time, is that he’s fast; he was quick. And so, people had to react to his first step.
“And so, when he took that hard jab one way, they had to react to it because he was quick, and then he was able to go back the other way. And that’s really what receivers are. And because DeVonta’s fast and because he’s quick and he has a quick, fast first release, first step, they have to react to when he jabs, and then the other thing on top of that, he’s making it a meaningful jab. You know, some receivers will just kind of — I mean, I know you can’t really see what I’m doing, but put their foot in the ground.
“Well, he puts his foot in the ground, he puts his body that way, and puts his head that way to really get them going, and then he crosses them over to, say, on — you know, how Allen Iverson used to do it.
“So that’s what makes him so effective. Again, his first quick step and then his technique in which he does it with how he gets that guying leaning that way and then come off and do it, So that’s exciting because that’s not something a lot of guys have to do a lot in college. And so, he’s just a quick — again, I always felt like he is a technically sound wide receiver, and he was coached really well at Alabama. And he’s a student of the game.
“So, it’s no surprise. And so, he has that understanding to that, too, that you really got to move them to get off the line of scrimmage.”
Well, if Smith is anything like Iverson, the Eagles, and their fans will be happy!