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?

 

And he was — in football, baseball and basketball. He was lightning-quick and fast and fearless. Men around him — uncles, coaches — saw what he had. Their Hampton neighborhood was violent, riddled with drugs. He was too good to let slide away. They protected Bubbachuck, a star from the time he was a child. School — well, school didn’t matter. Often, he didn’t go. Often, he had to stay home to take care of his younger sister when Ann wasn’t up to it.

Then he became even more famous, at 18, way beyond Hampton.

There was a fight in a bowling alley. Accounts still differ. Bubbachuck and some black friends from the basketball team got into a melee with white kids. Punches were thrown, a chair was cracked over someone’s head. And Iverson, at 18, was sentenced to five years in prison. There were racially charged JUSTICE FOR BUBBACHUCK rallies. The story hit the national press.

Prison at a Newport News, Virginia, work farm pushed him deeper into his own world. His friends would appear outside the prison yard, as a show of support. Bubbachuck never made eye contact with them, but he knew they were there. His girlfriend, Tawanna, would come, too, to show him she still believed. But as far as he knew, there was nothing to believe. His God-given dream of the NBA, his ticket out, his family’s ticket out, had been snatched away.

And then it was given back in late 1993, when governor Doug Wilder, just before leaving office, granted Iverson clemency after he had served less than six months.
“I learned a lot about people from that experience,” Iverson would say later. “I really didn’t know how people were, or how they could be. I feel no pressure anymore. About anything. I know what time it is.”

Those half-dozen friends who came to see him at prison — his posse —  Iverson would keep tight. He and Tawanna started having babies. He played two years at Georgetown, lighting up the Big East with his free-flow game, then joined the Sixers.

He was an electric player, one of the smallest and fastest, fearless in charging to the basket, smacked to the floor again and again by players who weighed almost twice as much as his buck-65. He never got angry at opponents. He simply kept attacking. He hogged the ball, often ignoring his teammates, but the speed and relentlessness made him impossible to stop, by either an opponent or his own coaches. He was going to do it his way, and we had never seen anything quite like it.

The NBA would not publish the photo of Allen Iverson being named rookie of the year: He showed up at the award ceremony in a white skullcap. Then it was cornrows. And heavy jewelry. And tattoos that crept all over his body.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 < Previous Next >View as One Page

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • 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