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?

 

It was all good except for the last part. The Nuggets washed out of the playoffs in the first round two years running, and at the beginning of the third year, Iverson was traded to Detroit, because the Nuggets believed that at 33, he was slowing down.

With that, it all came crashing down, very fast. Detroit wanted Iverson to be a substitute, to not even freakin’ start.

The problem, Iverson says, was that he was lied to by rookie coach Michael Curry, who told him he’d never ask him to come off the bench. Then, not even a week later, he was no longer a starter. He was a role player. He was ordinary. And from the time he was an infant, from the time his mother Ann saw his arms and hands and knew what he was going to be, Iverson had never been ordinary.

It was the moment almost all pro athletes, especially big-time pro athletes, can’t come to grips with when it hits: Their bodies are winding down. To Iverson, a tiny man in a big man’s world, his game built not just on speed but on a survivor’s arrogance that he must be the very best — this was not something he’d stomach.
I can feel it now, talking to him, his pain and arrogance both: Still in his practice uniform, he pulls his sweatband over his eyes, cradles his head in his hands. This moment for him came on so fast.

What was Iverson without his athletic superiority? He sulked and fought with Curry. The Detroit Free Press blogged that he was banned from two Detroit casinos for throwing chips at dealers and spitting at them and even trying to cheat. (The casinos, ever concerned about PR, deny that he was banned, and the Free Press took down the blog post, but the reporter who broke the story says now that he was privy to at least 15 people regaling him with stories of Iverson drunk and unbearable in casinos.) Iverson believes no NBA team wants him for a simple reason: Detroit general manager Joe Dumars put the word out that he was too much trouble. “I think that situation basically destroyed my NBA career,” he says. “I honestly believe that.”

I ask Iverson if he has a gambling problem. From his days with the Sixers, there are myriad stories of him dropping big money in A.C. at the Taj and Bally’s, getting drunk and being rude to dealers. The stories smack of him throwing his money around recklessly, even dangerously.

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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