Allen Iverson is in bad shape. Not, bad meaning “good”, but “bad” meaning bad. According to a new piece in the Washington Post the iconic NBA baller “has hit rock bottom” and there are many people who love him, and are concerned about him.
Three years after Iverson’s last NBA game, the spotlight has shifted from his play to his flaws. His refusal back then to play by society’s rules was seen as an independent player’s quirks, part of the character and the brand, same as his cornrows and tattoos.
Practicing with hangovers added to the legend. Skipping team functions and refusing to obey the league’s dress code was a man who wouldn’t be held down. And embarrassing defenders on the way to the basket, in the NBA and before that at Georgetown, was a nightly statement by the 6-foot, 165-pound guard: If a man, no matter his size, is determined enough, he can get the better of giants.
But Iverson isn’t a basketball player anymore. This is something most everyone but Iverson has accepted, and for years a question worried those closest to him: What happens when the most important part of a man’s identity, the beam supporting the other unstable matter, is no longer there?
For the past three years, as Iverson chased an NBA comeback, his marriage fell apart and much of his fortune – he earned more than $150 million in salary alone during his career – dissolved. Now, those who once ignored past signals have recognized that basketball may have been the only thing holding Iverson’s life together.
“He has hit rock bottom, and he just hasn’t accepted it yet,” says former Philadelphia teammate Roshown McLeod.
As sad as that sounds, nothing can compare to the scene described during Iverson’s divorce trial in 2012.
Iverson stood during a divorce proceeding in Atlanta in 2012 and pulled out his pants pockets. “I don’t even have money for a cheeseburger,” he shouted toward his estranged wife, Tawanna, who then handed him $61.
To make matters worse, alcholism has been said to be a major contributor to A.I.’s spiraling struggle.
Tawanna testified that during a 2009 family vacation in Orlando, Iverson spent evenings with a friend while his family made plans without him. On the day they were to fly home, Iverson nursed a hangover in a van, lying on the floor with a foot draped on the seat. While their children saw a movie, Tawanna sat for hours with her husband, afraid if he was left alone the driver would take photographs.
Hopefully someone can reach out to Allen to help him get his life together. Despite how bad his situation is, there is a silver lining in Iverson’s playbook.
Basketball was Iverson’s sanctuary, and he signed huge contracts: a six-year deal in 1999 worth $70.9 million and, four years later, a new agreement worth $76.7 million. Reebok signed him to a huge endorsement deal, including a deferred trust worth more than $30 million, a lump sum he can’t touch until he turns 55.
It’s a LONG time to wait, but if the braided-baller can hold on just 18 more years, there just might be some hope.
As bad as many people feel for A.I. it appears that all his wounds are self-inflicted. Iverson’s ignorance, lack of responsibility, and a general I-don’t-give-a-fawk demeanor makes it hard to feel too bad for him. That said, Iverson was one of the greatest basketball players that most of us have ever seen grace the court, it’s a shame that won’t be the way we remember him.
Damn it was all good just a week ago!