The Benchwarmers: Who is Allen Iverson?
How often do you sit back and think about your childhood?
I’m not talking about the days filled with whining about zits and whether that “special” someone read the 12 text messages you sent him/her in an hour. I’m talking about the Nesquik-drinking, Nickelodeon-watching, play outside until-you fell out days.
In all honesty, I’m guilty of daydreaming all the time, typically in environments where I probably shouldn’t be (i.e., Shakespeare Comedies and Histories).
On the second night of the 2013-14 NBA regular season, an event so sorrowing and depressing took place right before the Philadelphia 76ers’ contest against the Miami Heat. That was when Allen Iverson officially announced his retirement from the game of basketball.
Sure everyone knew two years ago that the chance for another comeback by “The Answer” was microscopic to none.
Nonetheless, watching Iverson salute the crowd in the house he built moved me to tears. It is okay for a man to cry.
Observing him on the television screen brought back memories of wearing his jersey every Friday, hoping that during recess I would be able to play like him on the blacktop. Of course, that never happened because I was extremely uncoordinated.
For many grew up in the Hampton Roads area in the 90’s, Iverson was everything. He was sort of like a transcendent being of sheer awesomeness.
Children used to get into physical altercations stemming from arguments over who knew more about Iverson. Yes, it was that serious.
As I continued to meditate on the enigma that he was, I realized that we did not know the man himself beyond what we saw on television and read in magazines.
In April 2013, Washington Post reporter Kent Babb wrote a chilling article on Iverson’s past and current struggles, as well as numerous responsibilities he neglected in the past.
Babb brought to light the former Sixers guard and 11-time NBA All-Star’s breakdown during his divorce proceeding. In the article, he wrote that Iverson shouted, “I don’t even have money for a cheeseburger” toward his ex-wife Tawanna, who then handed him $61.
Pat Croce, the Sixers executive who selected Iverson first overall back in the 1996 draft, said that “God gave him a great gift” knowing that “one day, he was going to take it away.”
During the divorce proceedings, Tawanna testified that Iverson left his children alone in a hotel room during a weekend at a water park and moved her to vehemently conclude that “what I’ve learned is that they don’t need him if he’s going to be that destructive in their lives,” she said.
As those words spewed out of my grandmother’s mouth as she read, as lively and animated as she could be while reading the article aloud, I felt sick to my stomach. The information was too much for my heart to bear.
As kids, we idolized sports and entertainment figures. We place them on golden pedestals and view them as paragons in life.
Sadly, both current and future generations will continue to pay very little attention to the fact that we don’t know who these people really are.
After writing this, I will probably go back to talking about Pharrell Williams, LeBron James and even Iverson in an adoring, fanatical manner.
Nonetheless, the fact remains that no matter how much we may think we know about someone, we really don’t know anything beyond what our eyes can see.
Are my words negative and naive? Perhaps.
I guess that’s just the kid in me.
By Eric Guy