Allen Iverson: Fallen Star

With his NBA career over, his marriage in trouble, and rumors swirling about drinking and money problems, the greatest Sixer of his era finds himself playing minor-league basketball in Turkey and spending his nights at a T.G.I. Friday’s in Istanbul. Isn’t it, weirdly, exactly how we always thought it would end for Allen Iverson?

Another World: Clockwise from top: Iverson surrounded by fans at Atatürk International Airport; inside his new team's small gym; in New York answering questions about his move to Turkey.

Another World: Clockwise from top: Iverson surrounded by fans at Atatürk International Airport; inside his new team’s small gym; in New York answering questions about his move to Turkey.

I’m operating on extreme hope. I am in Instanbul. All I know is that Allen Iverson 
is here — in this city of 13 million, with one foot in Asia and one in Europe — to play basketball. His manager keeps saying no, that Allen won’t talk to me. So I ask the concierge in my hotel: If you’re Allen Iverson — the greatest thing to ever hit Turkish basketball — where do you go to meet women?

“Reina,” he tells me. “Yes, Club Reina — on the Bosphorus.”

Reina is a place with a metal detector at the entrance, and chandeliers and fireplaces and lighted floors and a DJ and lovely people on the inside. You can walk out onto a pier to check out the lapping Bosphorus River, which connects the Black and Mediterranean seas, and gaze up at the Asian moon, and sip drinks for 20 lira.

I go up to a young woman in a tank top and impossibly tight jeans and three-inch shiny black heels, who’s having a drink with another woman and a man. She is dark and beautiful. I ask her if she speaks English. Yes. I tell her I’m in Istanbul to write about Allen Iverson. She smiles a bit of a devilish smile.

“I met him last night.”

The hottest girl in the hottest club, 24 years old. Allen Iverson has already met her. She’s a dead ringer for the character Sloan in Entourage — the same prettiness and almost over-the-top sexiness coupled with sweetness and, I quickly find out, smarts.

Along with her friend, the silent Turk to my right, she went to Iverson’s first game in Istanbul the night before, in a home arena so tiny — it seats 3,200 — she could easily find Iverson’s manager, Gary Moore, and tell him how she studied at Georgetown. Iverson’s school! So Moore naturally invited her to join Iverson and his crew at their post-game haunt, the place where he’s been hanging out with his slightly downsized America-to-Istanbul posse, in this lovely ancient city:
T.G.I. Friday’s.

That’s where Iverson lands every night, for all of his first week in Istanbul.

Friday’s.

Of course she went, and spent a couple of hours. She found Iverson kind of cold. He said hello, but that was about it. He played cards. He drank Corona. She ended up talking to Moore. Clearly she wanted a little more than that.

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