Sadness? Amusement? Anger?
What? What am I supposed to say, or feel? Another superstar modern athlete, having recklessly thrown away his career, life, and a staggering mountain of money.
During Iverson’s prime, teammates accepted Iverson’s unique style, be it hangovers during some practices or his trademark single-arm sleeve. His response to a question in 2002 about missing workouts became iconic: “We’re talking about practice."
As long as his game was sharp – he was named MVP in 2001 and won four NBA scoring titles – they ignored all else.
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.
His play kept his shortcomings in the shadows, but at home, his behavior caused increasing worry. Tawanna testified that her husband was undependable and volatile. Alcohol intensified his flaws, she said, leading him to skip milestone events and stagger through others.
He hadn’t been present for Tiaura’s birth in 1994, and three years later, when Allen Jr. was born – they would call him Deuce – Iverson was “very intoxicated” and unable to drive her to the hospital, Tawanna told the court.I know a feature writer like Babb is not someone who will moralize, or judge when writing. It's not his role. Still, I find some of the ways Iverson was described in this piece as oddly tortured, to the point where you have to take a flatly negative quality and wish it into a virtue.
When Iverson used to pay entire bar bills for friends, he was "generous" not "stupid."
When he slagged off practice or showed up late, he was described as someone who "didn't let the man keep him down" instead of just being an "irresponsible dick."
When Iverson's current "business manager" and longtime friend insists in this article that the Sixers should HIRE Iverson to be a "consultant" so he can travel and tell his sad story to others... you have to re-read it and ask: "Wait? What? Is that supposed to be a joke?"
So many along the way in Iverson's basketball life claimed to care - really CARE - so much about him. From John Thompson who saved his life after imprisonment from that bowling alley brawl, to Pat Croce and Larry Brown, plus lots of fellow teammates along the way.
But I guess nobody cared enough to stand up to him and say "no." No coming to practice hungover. No more being late. No more jewelry. No more late nights with hangers on.
I mean, maybe they tried to say "no" - because they cared about him and could see this coming - but there really wasn't any consequences.
The only time anybody really ever said "no" to Iverson was the league, when it instituted the pre-game anti-hip-hop dress code - which was then denounced by the PC crowd as "racist."
So maybe we should just scrap all of these "rookie orientation" programs pro leagues have today. I mean, has there been any analysis of whether or not they actually work? Do we really need broke former players like Iverson to go around on speaking tours to say "don't do what I did?"
Let's just be honest and say to athletes: "Here's your big pile of money. If you are stupid, it'll all be gone, shortly after your last contract. And nobody is going to care. Good luck."
"Did Tawanna Tell You That?"
Classic. Never gets old.