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Allen Iverson Goes Broke. His Critics Will Feel Vindicated.

Allen Iverson is broke, apparently. Despite earning more than $150 million in salary alone, he could not pay an $860,000 jewelry bill. He had an $860,000 jewelry bill. Iverson was invariably polarizing. This news certainly will make those on one pole feel vindicated, though the Answer, without fail, is a little more complicated.

Problem was, it was A.I. and “who that?” Almost every night, single-handedly, he would win or lose a game. That’s not the way basketball is intended to be played, even if Larry Brown said it was so, too, the right way. Forty points are impressive. Taking 30 shots to get them is not.

The problem was it was A.I. and “who that?” He never had a great teammate. He seldom had good teammates. He spent his entire Philadelphia career carrying the functional and the flawed past their station. Iverson won 56 games and went to the NBA Finals with a supporting cast of Aaron McKie, Tyrone Hill, George Lynch, Theo Ratliff, Eric Snow and 34-year-old Dikembe Mutombo. Who should have been shooting more?

There were excursions to see the Ice Man, whose handiwork included a platinum pendant made in the shape of a ‘3’ as a tribute to A.I.’s jersey number, with 63 diamonds embedded on it. You could land airplanes on it. It was worn on a gold chain, by A.I.’s mother, Ann.

It’s tough to argue with this point. His frivolous spending could have been classier. Iverson could own vineyards, Italian sports cars or perhaps a Paris Pied-à-terre? Maybe a quaint, vintage bicycle shop? Think of all the fois gras he could have eaten.

He was hardly the poster child for working on conditioning. He was always half a step ahead, and they warned him the day would come when the half step would go away, never to return. They should have saved their breath; they were whistling into the wind. And now, now that bill has come due.

Iverson did not work as hard as others. He did not need to work as hard as others. That’s what being a freakish athlete entails. Writers, above all other professions, should grasp that effort does not add value to output. Some writers stream a column in 45 minutes. Others chisel away for hours in anguish. The former might be better. The toil does not necessarily enhance the end product.

Conditioning did not fell Allen Iverson. Age and 12 years of hard fouling did. He never developed an “old man game.” What old man game would sustain the career of a six-foot, 160lb guard no longer quick enough to get off his own shot? He was a top level scorer in the league for 12 seasons. It’s hard to say he left prematurely.

Their numbers varied day to day, week to week, most of them from the old neighborhood in Virginia. There might be as many as 50 for tickets to a home game. There was a hair stylist who traveled, did his corn rows two to three times a week.
Moderation was not in vogue.

Allen Iverson got out. He tried to bring as many people as possible out with him. Too many. It ruined him. Abandoning friends and family members makes perfect financial sense, but it’s seldom that simple in practice. Iverson supported a posse, but that was not so much decadence as it was generosity.

Iverson has always had his critics. Much of that criticism has been valid. Though for Iverson it was never black and white, and it was always black and white.

[Photo via US Presswire]

 

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