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?

 

When the Sixers let Iverson go home last February, it was to sit down with Tawanna, to see if they could, somehow, get back on track. For Iverson, his marriage — maybe more than anything else — is paramount to his survival.

“I’d die for her,” he once said about Tawanna. “I’d die without her.”

Sitting up in the stands in Istanbul, Iverson tells me, “It’s 360 degrees better now,” and this is the effect he has, despite all his excesses, or maybe because of them: I really hope, for his sake, that it is better.

I ask him how Tawanna feels about making the move from Atlanta with five kids. (Messiah is well now.)

Iverson smiles ruefully. They are a work in progress.

ON THE DAY I TALKED TO IVERSON
, I’d gone for a long, winding walk. Far above a four-lane highway, a hard-sounding Turkish voice blared. I walked up the hill to the voice and found a mosque, the imam’s incantations broadcast from speakers.
I peered in an open door. Shoes were lined in a vestibule. I took mine off, and slipped to the entrance of the main room, where 15 men in robes knelt in a row and touched their foreheads to the floor, as the imam chanted and imprecated.

Suddenly, a cell phone rang. I panicked, reached down — but it wasn’t mine. A man in the middle of the row of worshippers got up, turned, came toward me, reached into his white robe, and answered his phone.

I went back out into the sun, laughing, and watched women go in their own separate entrance. One second I was taking a peek into the Ottoman Empire, the next — well, it’s a rapidly shifting world.

Does Allen Iverson have a prayer of making it here? People who know him in America, or think they do, seem to find the idea laughable. How do you go from practically living in casinos and drinking heavily to Istanbul?

“I’m not like I was when I was in Philly,” Iverson says, “when I was 21. I didn’t have five kids. I didn’t have the responsibilities I have now.”

His old teammate Eric Snow tells me he knows Iverson wants to get back to the NBA. But Iverson says no. He’s done that, had his career there. He’s in a new place now, a city and country that have embraced him. There are millions more fans out there, all over Europe, that he can play for. And that’s what he intends to do, because the truth is, Allen Iverson has nowhere else to go.     

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  • Christopher

    You say Friday’s like you’re surprised. It’s no secret Friday’s & Houlihan’s were always his favorites in Philly.

  • Christopher

    Missed the page where Friday’s & Houlihan’s were mentioned. Sorry!

  • Steve

    He made $200 million and has to play in Turkey? That’s just idiocy – dumb- stupid – screwed up — and it appears he will be forever. I hope you never publish another Iverson story. Glad I would not let my child wear his jersey.

  • a

    No clue why you are bashing him for playing in Turkey. Turkey is a very nice and friendly city. The purpose of him playing is not cause he is broke but because he wants still to play and for a place that wants him. It’s a smart move on his part.

  • Kid

    This loser has gone from “The Answer” to “The Turkey”

  • Emre

    My american friends, even you don’t know the rest of the world, you still comment about it. Do you know that Turkey played for gold medal vs USA in the World Cup? If you do, you wouldn’t be sarcastic about this beautiful country or its basketball quality. I know that NBA is the best and we watch almost every game of Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur. But sadly, you don’t even know them, right? Iverson is playing in Istanbul cause we love this game and watching its talents. One thing about the author, you went to Istanbul, you don’t even know that Bosphorus is not a river, it’s a strait, like Bering. And Iverson is not the greatest thing for Turkish Basketball, it’s our NBA players and our second place in the world and europe cup. So please, make some research before writing something and don’t be ignorant about the rest of the world.

  • Emre

    My american friends, even you don’t know the rest of the world, you still comment about it. Do you know that Turkey played for gold medal vs USA in the World Cup? If you do, you wouldn’t be sarcastic about this beautiful country or its basketball quality. I know that NBA is the best and we watch almost every game of Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur. But sadly, you don’t even know them, right? Iverson is playing in Istanbul cause we love this game and watching its talents. One thing about the author, you went to Istanbul, you don’t even know that Bosphorus is not a river, it’s a strait, like Bering. And Iverson is not the greatest thing for Turkish Basketball, it’s our NBA players and our second place in the world and europe cup. So please, make some research before writing something and don’t be ignorant about the rest of the world.

  • ben

    a man from philly can get lost in istanbul easy, besiktas is level of a middling division college team, it competes in a league which are competitive in euroleauge, go kiss your selfself

  • Mike

    Dude, do your research. First the Turkish Beko League is anything but “middling”. Too, Turkish teams that play in the Euroleague obviously play in the Turkish league.

    So if the Turkish league is

  • Mike

    Dude, do your research. First the Turkish Beko League is anything but “middling”. Too, Turkish teams that play in the Euroleague obviously play in the Turkish league.

    So if the Turkish league is

  • Mike

    Dude, do your research. First the Turkish Beko League is anything but “middling”. Too, Turkish teams that play in the Euroleague obviously play in the Turkish league.

    So if the Turkish league is

  • Mike

    Dude, do your research. First the Turkish Beko League is anything but “middling”. Too, Turkish teams that play in the Euroleague obviously play in the Turkish league.

    So if the Turkish league is

  • Mike

    Dude, do your research. First the Turkish Beko League is anything but “middling”. Too, Turkish teams that play in the Euroleague obviously play in the Turkish league.

    So if the Turkish league is

  • Mike

    awful and the Euroleague so great why are two Turkish teams playing in both leagues? ( Efes and Fenerbahce)

    You need to do your homework dude. This was a piece written with good intentions yet lac