Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Not so Curious Case Of Allen Iverson

“Now I know that I'm supposed to lead by example and all that but I'm not shoving that aside like it don't mean anything. I know it's important, I honestly do but we're talking about practice. We're talking about practice man. We’re talking about practice. We're talking about practice. We're not talking about the game. We're talking about practice.”

For the majority of people who follow basketball be it casually or with a downright obsessive fervor as I do, there are two schools of thoughts for the most part on the man known simply as “The Answer.” The first is that Iverson is a thug, tattooed and with braids hanging, someone who is not to be looked up to and is the epitome of the “me first” athlete.

“I owe all of this to the guys I've played with and all the coaches that have helped me get to where I'm at right now. I'm honored to be here.”

The Allen Iverson that those that closely follow the game know is one who by his own admission was not a perfect player but he was without a doubt a player who worked and played harder than any player in the last two decades. He played through injury, played against those who were bigger and he did it all to win. Players who have a great relationship with the media such as Brett Favre, John Stockton, or Karl Malone are described as being tough while Iverson is described as selfish and driven by his performance and his performance alone. They are described as being driven by winning. He is described as being driven by his own selfish need for attention.

Iverson's injuries extend much farther than his physical maladies...

What is rarely brought up is the litany of injuries AI played through during the course of his career. How he never once changed his style because he knew that was the only way his team was going to win.

Now Allen Iverson has hit a wall. One that he can’t use his breathtaking speed, devastating crossover or surprising vertical leap to overcome, As it has been reported that Iverson is struggling with an addiction to both gambling and alcoholism. Iverson was an athletic prodigy who’s drive to win led him to be wary of teammates and remains one of the most polarizing figures in all of sports. It should not come as a surprise to anyone as he has been kamikaze in all of his actions on the court, why wouldn’t he do the same off the court?

Unfortunately stories such as the Answer’s have become a major problem in the world of sports. Young men given a cornucopia of cash, expected to keep it real in their hometowns and around childhood acquaintances and this pursuit leads them down a path of personal destruction. One hopes that mentors from his past such as the man who recruited him to college Hall of Fame coach John Thompson or the man who drafted him despite concerns over his character Pat Croce can reach Iverson.

He has shown the ability to do good for his hometown boys, for the team that he plays for, but perhaps his mere survival depends on his ability to apply his intense attitude to doing good for himself.

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