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Las Vegas’ Brendan Gaughan reminisces about Georgetown days with Allen Iverson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Brendan Gaughan was the only NASCAR driver to earn a shoutout in Allen Iverson’s Hall of Fame induction speech last fall.

AI and Gaughan?

Yup, meet the Daytona 500 driver who had his ankles broken by AI. Before Gaughan started a lengthy NASCAR career and Iverson became of the NBA’s greats with the Philadelphia 76ers, they were teammates in the 1990s at Georgetown.

Gaughan was a role player with the Hoyas under coach John Thompson, and had one big assignment — roughing up Iverson in practice.

“It was a lot of fun,” Gaughan said Wednesday. “You know the old joke where they say he’ll cross you so hard, he’ll break your ankles? Actually, he crossed me so hard I did break my ankles. It was black-and-blue two years guarding him. Chipped a bone and tore some ligaments.”

Iverson never forgot what Gaughan meant to him in the early years of his basketball career. Gaughan’s name was dropped in the speech among a string of former Hoyas, which Iverson called his “Georgetown family,” that included Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Motumbo, Alonzo Mourning, Victor Page and Jerome Williams.

“Coach used to put him on me because he knew that he would make me work harder if he was guarding me than anybody else,” Iverson told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “That’s what I remember most. He’s a great guy, man. A beautiful person.”

Gaughan returned the sentiment.

“I love him to death,” Gaughan said. “It was very cool to see him remember all the guys on that race team — on that race, I mix sports too quickly — all the guys on that team.”

Gaughan knew at Georgetown that Iverson would become a great NBA player. That was part of the fun of being allowed to bang-and-bruise with the 6-foot-1 Iverson.

“It went bad for him and it went bad for me some days,” Gaughan said, laughing. “I was allowed to hold my own with him. We had certain rules in practice that we didn’t have in games.”

Gaughan didn’t see a lot of playing time with the Hoyas, but he was on the court for one minute in 1996 during a first-round game in the NCAA tournament. He didn’t score, but he still considered that game one of his greatest athletic achievements.

“I’m a 5-foot, 9-inch white boy that can’t shoot, can’t dribble,” he said. “But I can definitely box out. I can do a lot of things.”

Gaughan also was an all-conference kicker on Georgetown’s Division III football team.

Gaughan, a regular in the Truck and Xfinity Series, is set to make his 51st career Cup start in the Daytona 500. The 41-year-old driver raced his way in for Beard Motorsports.

Winning Daytona is more of a long shot than making any full-court heave, yet Gaughan was thrilled to have the chance to try. He finished 19th in 2004 driving for Penske-Jasper Racing.

Iverson led the Sixers to the 2001 NBA finals, won four scoring titles and an MVP award — in part, perhaps, because of his rugged battles with a future NASCAR driver.

“He helped me become a Hall of Famer,” Iverson said. “I had to deal with him every day to get better, to be better in game mode. That meant everything to me. I love him and I respect him for that.”

Gaughan is still trying to entice Iverson to attend a NASCAR race.

Iverson laughed and said, “Yeah, I’m going to get to it.”

“He always talks to me about that,” Iverson said. “He’s telling me I’ve got to get to one.”

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