Thursday, March 4, 2010

The End Of The Road For Allen Iverson...

Allen Iverson, from the time he entered the NBA, has always been a lightning rod for criticism. You either loved his eff' the world ethos, tats and cornrows, and 1 vs 5 style of ballhogging play, or you thought he was the worst thing to ever happen to The Association. Personally, I always liked the guy more off the court than on. I admired his brashness, his aborted rap career (that's him below), his loyalty to those he grew up with, and his total and complete resistance to assimilation. He's also one of the few NBA players I've actually met in a non-game setting, as I once had a chance encounter with him at the bar at DC's famed Republic Gardens during his rookie season. The guy's "entourage" numbered only one other person, and he was down the Earth, and was more than willing to talk about what it was like to suddenly be rich and famous overnight. He was just a cool, regular dude, all things considered. I feel no need to add the obligatory [pause] to the end of this story.

In recent years, however, things have swiftly gone from sugar to sh*t for The Answer. Traded in domino fashion from Philly, to Denver, to Detroit over a 3 season stretch, Iverson's allure quickly wore off when his ball dominating offensive style didn't mesh with his teammates. It was also curious that each team got significantly better once he left town. When he flamed out after just 3 games and was was released by the freakin' Grizzlies last Fall, I figured he'd hang em' up for good, but then, the only city that still held him in any regard came calling, and suddenly, AI was back with the struggling Sixers. The storybook ending of redemption, reclamation, an 8th playoff spot, and an sweep at the hands of the Cavs was just ready to be written.

But of course, it didn't turn out that way.

Iverson never really meshed with the new-look Sixers, didn't get along with coach Eddie Jordan, couldn't stay healthy, and didn't really play well was he was. When he took an indefinite leave of absence to tend to a gravely ill child, many folks sympathized with him, and the team stuck by him, even though most squads would have released him.

And then, this sh*t happened...
While on leave from the Philadelphia 76ers to reportedly attend to his sick 4-year-old daughter Messiah, Allen Iverson spent the weekend away from home in Charlotte.

Iverson was at the CIAA weekend, and spent Saturday night partying at Club 935 in Charlotte with rap mogul Jermaine Dupri. (Yes, Iverson was there.)

The premise for Iverson to be in town was the creation of the CIAA Allen Iverson Scholarship Endowment.

Would it be such a horrible thing if Iverson slipped into a Charlotte club Saturday night for a Henny or three on the DL? Probably not.

But allowing his image to be used in a promotional poster for the nightclub event? Not a good look and probably something that won’t endear him to NBA general managers this offseason.
Let's be honest here. On the surface this isn't so bad. Like any man dealing with a very stressful situation, Iverson deserves an occasional break from his misery, if only a temporary diversion. And the scholarship tie-in is noble.

But on the flipside, Iverson has a job to do, and it involves playing basketball. If he's indeed out tending to an ailing child, being featured on a promotional flyer for an afterparty is prolly not the best look, especially when your employer is missing your presence, and season ticket holders are already staying him in droves. If I've paid $150/game to see Allen Iverson, only to find out he's stiffing my hometeam to get paid to party while the Sixers are in the midst of a grueling 4 game Western road trip, AI has probably exhausted the final shred of sympathy I had remaining for him. And oh yeah, to add pissy mayo to a sh*t sandwich, the man's wife just filed for divorce. What a weekend!

I'm sure this is a major PR disaster for the Sixers also, who seem to have been covering for Iverson all along (not that his child isn't actually sick, she does indeed appear to be), and would look like real jerks if they outright released him. Instead, the team is now saying AI "won't return this season", which is a nice way of saying "we can't control this Negro, but we don't want to piss him off either because we'll need to retire his jersey someday."

It's a sad, sad, sad turn of events, but in retrospect we probably should have seen it coming all along. It's highly unlikely that any NBA team will give Iverson a shot next year, considering the fact that the Grizz were the only team that wanted him last Summer. I sure hope he stacked his chips, because watching him slumming for dollars in Finland, Scottie-Pippen-style, to pay off debts would be even more disappointing than his current predicament. As if that's possible.

Happy trails, AI. It's been real.

Question: Was Iverson wrong for attending the CIAA after-party? Will another team take a chance on him, or is he indeed headed to Scandinavia for his next bball paycheck, just like Scottie Pippen?

Hope Iverson’s Sick 4-Year-Old Likes Her Henny [SportsByBrooks]

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