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?

 

Iverson had hit rock bottom. At 34—having nearly exhausted his athletic gifts — he’d washed out of the NBA, largely seen as too troubled and demanding to finish his career with some team needing to get a few more fannies in the seats. That failed last year in Philly, after Iverson had already been pushed out of Detroit and bolted from Memphis. His career seemed done, and maybe he was, too.

So he has come to Turkey to resurrect not only his basketball career, but his life. In … Istanbul? How is he going to survive camped out in a Friday’s in Istanbul?
As one NBA official put it, the guy spent the past five years pretty much living in either bars or casinos. But word has it that his family is coming, that he and Tawanna have reconciled and she’s about to arrive with all five kids, ranging in age from two to 16. The team has checked out schools and is finding the family a villa to live in. It’s a new beginning.

On this night, after my conversation at Reina, I head to Friday’s, which even in Istanbul looks like Friday’s everywhere, with stained-glass lamps, and TVs viewable from every angle (soccer!), and signs on the wall for the Farmers’ Almanac 1879 and Frank’s Cattle Manure.

Iverson was in earlier, a waiter tells me, he and his boys, drinking Corona and playing cards. “He’s a nice guy, Allen Iverson!”

But now, 11 at night in Istanbul, he has slipped away.

HE IS EXTREME. HE ALWAYS HAS BEEN. His beginnings might be familiar to us, but require understanding to fathom him now. Iverson comes from nothing — he’s said that himself — or, more precisely, from Hampton, Virginia, born of a single mother, Ann, who had him at 15 and supported herself however she could. Cousins and uncles piled into one tiny house. Sometimes there was raw sewage on the floors. He was called Bubbachuck, and Ann believed he had something special — something extreme — from day one. She marveled at his long arms and his long fingers even while he was an infant. He was going to be a ball player. A great ball player.

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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