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?


“You find out when dealing with people that doesn’t have nowhere near as much money as you,” Iverson says, “that a lot of people who don’t have that money and can’t fathom it, would never understand. If I had that much to lose and I know it, then it’s not a problem for me.”

How about drinking? “Everybody I know, damn near, drinks. How is it a problem for me? I don’t remember getting any DUIs or going to jail for getting drunk in public.” Iverson laughs, because, really, are we talking about drinking? “I’ve never been reprimanded or anything, with any team or anything like that, because of any drinking.”

In late 2009, he tried to resume his NBA career in Memphis. Just as the season was starting, the team was practicing in L.A., and coach Lionel Hollins cleared the gym of onlookers so he could address his players. And then he lit into Iverson for caring only about himself — the player famous for playing his heart out, admonished for not giving enough. Iverson was out of there after the next game. He signed back here, and played 25 games with the Sixers. But he’d not only lost a step; worse, his mind was no longer in the game, and that had always been one of his gifts: using the gym to escape from his life.

Iverson’s daughter Messiah was sick. There was another, even graver problem: Tawanna had filed for divorce.

They have been together, Iverson says, for more than half his life. An old family friend from Hampton, who has known him since he was eight years old, understands what Tawanna saw in him before he had two nickels to rub together: “She was a sweet girl — she didn’t know anything of the streets. Bubbachuck was an athlete, a humble sweet little kid, and she saw an innocent boy who was gifted and had nothing but wanted something. She saw that, and fell in love with that dream. It’s a hell of a love story. And she didn’t leave the dream — she kept dreamin’, like Hollywood. Some dreams happen, some don’t. She kept dreamin’ one day, somehow, Allen would be the innocent boy she met when she was very young.”

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