More than 30 tattoos, tightly woven cornrows, oversized clothing, recorded a rap album so explicit it was never released. No, Double Technicals has not turned into a rap forum. The above description is actually a portrayal of, in my opinion, the most misunderstood player, and my favorite player of all time – Allen Ezail Iverson. The most iconic figure to ever dribble a basketball, and if you laugh in disagreement, fuck you and stop reading because this article won’t be for you. Screw MJ’s shrug against Portland, give me that swagger step over Tyronne Lue. Once on top of the basketball world in 2001 and considered the best player in the game, somehow, my hero has morphed into a thug who is undeserving of a job. Call me a sensitive bitch, but this infuriates me. Let me provide you with some quick facts and imagine you do not know which player I’m referring to:
- 24368 points
- 26.7 ppg career average (6th all time)
- 29.7 ppg playoff average (2nd all time)
- 2001 MVP
- 11 time all star (All Star MVP in 2001 and 2005)
- 4 time NBA scoring leader
- 3 time All NBA first team
- Led his team to the NBA finals with a starting lineup that included Aaron McKie, Jumaine Jones, Tyrone Hill and Dikembe Mutombo. (Not exactly a stat, but if there was ever a “most unbelievable accomplishment” stat, this would be it)
“If your kid goes out and blows somebody’s head off because Allen Iverson has said he was going to blow somebody’s head off on wax, then you’re doing a bad job as a parent.” – Iverson told “The Philadelphia Inquirer” when talking about the song “40 Bars” on his upcoming rap album.
Now look at those stats again, and realize that this man has not been offered an NBA job since 2010 (in which he only played 25 games). You must be screaming “HOW DOES CHRIS QUINN LIVE AN NBA LIFESTYLE WHEN THIS MAN DOESN’T!” Well, as I pointed out before, Allen Iverson is so misunderstood no rich fat white guy at the top of an NBA team is willing to give him a chance even as a 12th man on a team. Yes, not even the mighty Charlotte Bobcats.
My love affair with Allen Iverson began the moment I started to pay serious attention to the NBA. My first game watching him was against the Utah Jazz, before Deron Williams came and left, before Jerry Sloan said “fuck it I never get the respect I deserve” and resigned. I remember vividly, this barely 6 foot phenom absolutely embarrassing his peers and picking apart the defense. I was in love. I started to follow Allen Iverson from that point on closer than I followed anything else. He started to affect my academics, my social life, my play on the court and everything else that was significant to me. I remember skipping school in favor of watching youtube clips of him, I was obsessed. I sit here and think “Maybe I would have done better in school if I never discovered this man, maybe I would have made more friends if I didn’t choose Allen Iverson mixtapes over my friend’s birthday”. But because I live in the real world and “maybes” don’t count, I don’t give a fuck.
Sure, Iverson has had his share of off court issues. But let me break down some of the major issues that caused Iverson to become the most hated man of the NBA. It turns out that every issue he has had really wasn’t an issue at all. Hmmm, I wonder how that happened. Anyway, let’s get this bitch started.
“People try to start things with me because of who I am, and I know that means I have to stay away. It’s definitely racial.” – Allen Iverson, in Newport News City Farm, a work camp where he spent time after a racially charged brawl in high school.
“I had to use the whole jail situation as something positive. Going to jail, someone sees something weak in you, they’ll exploit it. I never showed any weakness. I just kept going strong until I came out.” – Iverson reflecting on his time in jail after being found guilty of starting a brawl in his high school in Hampton, Virginia.
- Involved in a brawl at a bowling alley at the age of 15, leading to jail time and no college offering him a scholarship due this event, despite clearly being the top talent in the nation
Thank god for John Thompson. There is an excellent documentary – “No crossover: The trial of Allen Iverson”, that details this incident, which you should all watch, so I will not go into this in detail. But I’ll quickly sum it up for you. Imagine hanging out at a bowling alley in one of the most dangerous and racist neighborhoods in America, with a group of friends that just happen to all be the same race as you. Another group of people, who just happen to all be a race that used to own you as slaves just a couple generations ago (and fought an actual war in order to retain the right to do so), yells out a racial slur to one of your homies. Remember, you’re 15 and full of testosterone, your first reaction would be to confront them, right? A brawl ensues and a few people are injured, no deaths and no major injuries were suffered. You would expect to get away with community service, some anger management or a disciplinary course of some sort. You’d also expect that both parties involved were equally punished. Instead, what really happened is that you and 2 other friends are thrown into jail, while the other party aren’t even arrested, no community service, not even a slap on the hand. JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED! Allen Iverson at fault here, or RACISM?
“I didn’t come into this league thinking I knew everything, the way some people think I did. I knew I had a lot to learn. I just wanted to learn it all right away.” – Iverson during his NBA rookie season.
- The infamous rant about practice
We were all waiting for this one weren’t we? You must be thinking how in the world I can defend this. I’m about to blow your mind. The coach at the time of the rant was Larry Brown, and he called out Allen for missing practice and frequently arriving late. First of all, remember this is Larry Brown. The good guy in this situation is the man that has clashed with (just to name a few) Chauncey Billups, Stephon Marbury, the 2004 USA team, the Knicks, and a guy who’s coached 9 different NBA teams. How does someone with such a bad history with so many teams and players become the good guy in this situation? Isn’t it common sense to consider that Brown may have been the instigator here? This month, nearly a decade after the incident, Brown appeared on NBA TV, and commented about his practice rant. “In all honesty, he played 48 minutes every game, he tried to win every possession, he played hurt, nobody at his size could have accomplished what he’s done, and there’s some way, somehow, that he’s gotta get on some NBA team where he’s introduced as a starter in every arena and people give him the respect that he deserves.” Umm, is it just me or does it sound like Brown has finally realized that he was wrong and felt bad for being a complete asshole? If Iverson practiced more he would have been in a wheelchair by now. So all this time, Larry Brown didn’t really expect Iverson to show up to practice religiously due to the injuries he plays with night in and night out, but he calls him out on it in front of the media. Stay classy, Larry.
“I believe in my heart I’m the best player in the world. I’m just a scorer. I try to put the ball in the basket for my team. I’m just confident in my ability to play ball.” – Iverson said on Jan. 15, 2002 after dropping 58 points on the Houston Rockets.
- Iverson is a selfish player and takes too many shots
Iverson’s best teammate in each year since 2001 until the end of his 76ers career:
2001 – Dikembe Mutombo (defensive center, very limited offense, destroyed by Shaq in the finals)
2002 – Derrick Coleman
2003 – Keith Van Horn
2004 – Glenn Robinson
2005 – Chris Webber (All star caliber player, but already 31 years old and hampered by injuries, only played in 21 games with Iverson)
2006 – Chris Webber (1 year older)
2007 – Andre Iguodala (Defensive specialist, not known for his offense)
Is it safe to say that maybe Iverson should of taken even more shots?
- His very very brief stint in Memphis. He only appeared in 3 games, after coming off the bench in all 3 games, he decided to quit the team because he felt disrespected and should have been starting
This sequence really started the downward spiral for Iverson and eventually led to all 30 NBA teams being so afraid to take a chance on him. Even DeSagana Diop got more chances. It would have been an absolute dickish move on Iverson’s behalf, a typical “canswer” move, a move that could only hurt a team, a move that would only be validified IF MIKE FUCKN CONLEY WAS NOT THE PLAYER STARTING OVER HIM!!!
These were Mike Conley’s stats that year:
12 ppg / 2.4 rpg / 5.3 apg / 1.4 spg
These were Iverson’s stats just the season before, in a Detroit system where he didn’t fit in at all:
17.4 ppg / 3.1 rpg / 4.9 apg / 1.6 spg
Hmm. Can someone please tell me how a proven superstar in a league who has superior stats ends up being Mike Conley’s backup? I remember Kenny Smith on Inside the NBA commenting on how ridiculous it was that Conley would start over Iverson. Conley has since developed into a solid point guard, but at the time, Conley was the center of many trade rumors for the Grizzlies due to his inability to perform. But hey, it’s all Iverson’s fault right?
To this day, Iverson is still struggling for a job. Reports about him signing with a Puerto Rican team never came to fruition. Bankruptcy, alcohol and gambling rumors have defined who he is today. It’s hard to think how a man who many considered as the greatest talent in basketball has ended up in this situation. Sure, some of his own actions have contributed to his recent failure, but without a doubt a whole lot has been the negative image and character that the media has painted of him. Remember, it is normal to see players call out their teammates in today’s game, however, Iverson has never put a teammate under the bus, never complained about his companions who battle with him every night throughout all those horrid teams. Somehow, we remember him as a locker room cancer, a man who could not cooperate with his peers, a player who was driven by ego and individual accolades and would not sacrifice for the team. I shouldn’t say “we remember”, because “I” will always remember him as one of the greatest and THE realest player of all time. From the time he crossed Jordan to the time he returned to the 76ers, tears in his eyes and walking to center court, kissing the hardwood, he still remains as my hero, and should be a hero to every kid who lays hands on a basketball. Little did I know, that kiss in Philadelphia turned out to be the goodbye kiss.