recently, the Miami Heat won the NBA Finals headed by one of the great sporting douchebags of our time: LeBron James. yes, i acknowledge that he is a great player and can now shove in the faces of all those who would hate on him (such as myself) the fact that his Miami experiment, with all its poor planning and execution and raising legions against him, did in fact result in him getting a championship. more to the point, however, it came around the time one of my cousins was visiting, and as this kid loves the Heat (because he was raised incorrectly, if you ask me) and by extension LeBron (which makes sense if you’ve already committed to rooting for the Heat, i suppose), this raised the following debates: “are you aware that LeBron and/or the Heat suck” (he was not) and “what’s so great about Allen Iverson,” a debate that seems unrelated to current events. i’m not EXACTLY sure how it came up, but i was probably being insulted at the time.
the thing is, however, that i will ALWAYS defend Allen Iverson, even when this seems like a poor decision. so even though this has NOTHING to do with the recent Finals, i figured this might be as good a time as any for…
JANKLOW’S 13 POINTS HE BRINGS UP IN A DEFENSE OF ALLEN IVERSON
so let’s get right to it!
after finishing this update, i realize i should have added “infectious smile” to it
13. the fact of janklow being Philadelphia 76ers fan
for whatever reason, i am a 76ers fan; personally, i attribute this to hating Michael Jordan and loving Charles Barkley when i was little. but the side effect is that there isn’t a lot to celebrate as a 76ers fan: Chamberlain’s title team was well before my time (1966-1967) and the one i was barely alive for, the Moses Malone/Dr. J 1982-1983 championship team, is something i can celebrate but not something that’s particularly memorable to me. what have i really had to root for? Barkley, Allen Iverson, and maybe Andre Iguodala (and i do really like Iguodala). let’s just say there’s a reason why Wikipedia has the following stops on the 76ers history:
1.5 The Julius Erving Era
1.6 The Charles Barkley Era
1.7 The Dark Ages
1.8 The Allen Iverson Era
HE ENDED THE DARK AGES! enough said.
12. the social issues involved in Iverson’s 1993 arrest
many of you might not remember this (it WAS 19 years ago, after all), but the short version is this: Iverson and friends got into a fight with a bunch of white teenagers in a bowling alley; Iverson was accused of hitting a woman in the head with a chair; only Iverson and three of his friends (all black) were arrested. Iverson was 17, convicted as an adult for maiming by mob (a Virginia statute designed TO FIGHT LYNCHING), and got a 15-year sentence (10 years suspended). now, i am sure a lot of people think he did the deed (something SURELY not based in race and/or what teams they root for) and it’s certainly not a badge of honor for Iverson to have been arrested. but here’s why i mention it: as Iverson is someone who’s frequently portrayed as kind of a jerk, i have to imagine getting 15 years for a fight you might not have been involved in and which CERTAINLY featured one-sided arrests would make one a little fucking hostile.
11. that Iverson’s casino troubles are either hilarious or of moderate importance
some athletes gamble away thousands and thousands in casinos; some athletes get involved in the most severe of criminal troubles. aside from the brawl we recently covered, Iverson’s troubles, if Wikipedia is to be believed, have been more along the lines of “got into a fight at the Taj Mahal over and overpayment of chips” and “banned from Bally’s Atlantic City casino for urinating in a trash can.” and really, come on, what man among us HASN’T urinated somewhere or into something we shouldn’t have? true, there was that arrest in the 1997 offseason for possession of marijuana and a concealed weapon, but then i think that arrest is mandatory for anyone who wants to cultivate an edgy image. it’s the cost of doing business!
10. that Iverson was conspired against by NBA referees
that’s a sentiment that a LOT of players have voiced at one time or another, with varying degrees of truth being involved, but if Wikipedia is to be believed, this was actually the case with Iverson:
“Iverson was fined $25,000 by the NBA for criticizing referee Steve Javie following a game between the Nuggets and Iverson’s former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, played January 2, 2007. During the course of the game, Iverson committed two technical fouls and was ejected from the game. After the game, Iverson said, “I thought I got fouled on that play, and I said I thought that he was calling the game personal I should have known that I couldn’t say anything anyway. It’s been something personal with me and him since I got in the league. This was just the perfect game for him to try and make me look bad.””
now that’s not THAT bad of a statement, but you can still see why he got fined, and if you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t like Iverson, you’ll sure to presume he’s just whining. but then again:
“Former referee Tim Donaghy supported the claim that Javie had a longstanding hatred for Iverson in his book, Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal that Rocked the NBA, which a Florida business group published through a self-publishing arm of Amazon.com after it was dropped by a division of Random House, who cited liability issues after reviewing the manuscript. In a December 2009 interview with 60 Minutes, Donaghy said he and fellow referees thought the punishment was too light. Before Iverson’s Nuggets played the Utah Jazz on January 6, 2007, Donaghy said he and the two other officials working the game agreed not to give Iverson favorable calls as a way to “teach him a lesson”. Iverson attempted 12 free throws, more than any other player on either team. On 12 drives to the basket, he drew five fouls, three of which Donaghy whistled himself, and did not receive a call on one play in which he was obviously fouled by Utah’s Mehmet Okur.”
Donaghy can probably be discounted in many ways if you consider his history, but considering that his crimes were related to the EXACT thing we’re talking about here, it seems quite plausible. and who doesn’t want to root for someone the man is trying to keep down? especially when the alternatives –say, LeBron James– seem protected by the NBA and its referees, when not outright benefiting from outright flopping?
in trying to find photographic evidence of Iverson’s bad attitude, i have found him rolling his eyes a little. success?
09. the level of intensity and/or the “fuck you” attitude Iverson played with
first things first: i like sportsmanship, so i am not arguing for some kind of universal bad attitude to be adopted. that said, you know what you want to see from your millionaire athletes? acting like they give a damn, both about the game they play and the team/city they represent. Iverson was an undoubtedly gifted player, but he didn’t sit back and coast on talent: he played HARD. could you see him declining to come into a game with eight seconds left? or benefiting from the level of flopping we complain about in today’s game? yeah, the latter will be waved away by fans of those plays who claim they HAVE to flop to get the calls they deserve … but we all know that they don’t deserve those calls AND that a true player doesn’t want to get the calls that way.
08. that Iverson’s rap career could have been worse
so back in 2000, Iverson decided to try his hand at a rap career (or side-career, i guess); the result was a terrible moniker (“Jewelz” or “Jewels”), a single that was maligned for its alleged derogatory remarks about homosexuals (“40 Bars,” which was probably more him using inappropriate language than actually ranting about homosexuals, if i recall correctly), and not much else. but okay, let’s look at the bright side: he didn’t pretend being a rap artist or running a music label was his REAL JOB (a mistake made by many an athlete), and he didn’t go the Shaq route of cranking out terrible album after terrible album to the point where there’s a
and speaking of his rap career:
07. the existence of Don Trip’s “Allen Iverson”
for those unaware:
tell me what player’s inspired a better song. for all the times rappers mention LeBron, there’s still nothing better inspired by him out there.
06. janklow’s admitted regional loyalties
granted, Iverson is from Virginia, and i am not; he attended Georgetown, which is not a school i typically root for; he played predominantly in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and although i have family ties to the state, i am not from or residing in either the city or state. all that being said, i would be lying if i said i didn’t always have a subconscious desire to root for the teams and people that represent the Mid-Atlantic, where, as a region, i AM actually from. and since it’s a pretty ridiculous and confused region (to say the least, we don’t seem to know if this is the North or the South), we can use all the positive representation we can get.
pictured: Allen Iverson, giving a damn
05. that Iverson managed to somehow prevent himself from going broke
Americans seem to LOVE when a) athletes who earned millions go broke and b) divisive athletes a lot of people don’t like get their public comeuppance. this seemed to be happening in early 2012 when Iverson, who’s made something like $150-250 million from the NBA and endorsements, was reported to be broke, the major straw being a Georgia judge seized the bank account of Allen Iverson in order to pay out a substantial debt for an unpaid jewelry bill amounting to $859,896.46.
this, in turn, let another wave of commentators and angry fans rant about the latest thug idiot athlete who lost all that money he didn’t even deserve. only, as it would turn out, Iverson wasn’t ACTUALLY broke like you and i would be broke:
“However, hold the bankruptcy proceedings. He is far from insolvent, at least in the real world, if not in harmony with his “nothing in moderation’’ lifestyle. Someone who cared a great deal for Iverson and grasped the extent of his habits, loyalties and generosity protected him to some degree from financial ruination, at 36, at any rate.
A person with a firm grip on the situation informs me Iverson has an account worth $32 million, a principal he is prohibited from touching until 55. In the meantime, it feeds him $1 million annually.
At 45, Iverson is eligible to start drawing on an NBA pension that maxes out at 10 years of active duty, or take whatever’s there as lump sum. He will be entitled roughly to $8,000 per month ($800 per x 10).
If at all possible, Iverson will issue a restraining order against himself until he’s 62 or so. At that time, I’m told, his lump sum will be between $1.5 million and $1.8 million, or he can elect to take monthly checks of approximately $14,000 per.”
so yes, he has not been financially careful in every way (32 out of 250 is not that much), and yes, he could STILL manage to ruin himself financially somehow, in some way. that said, how many athletes DIDN’T manage to have someone who gave a damn about them set up that kind of trust fund?
04. that Iverson actually gave a shit while playing on the US 2004 Olympic team
especially considering that this was in the post-Dream Team era of allowing phenomenal basketball talent to play for the Olympic team, this was not, to say the least, our finest hour. in that time, we won gold in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2008, making our shameful bronze finish in 2004 all the more shameful. the team had some undoubtedly great players (Iverson, Tim Duncan, Dwayne Wade, early versions of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James), but played and practiced and did everything else in a half-assed fashion. and the only person to really seem to give a damn about doing well in the Olympics? Allen Iverson:
“”It’s an honor to be named to this team,” Iverson said. “It’s something that you should cherish for the rest of your life. And honestly, this is something that I will cherish even without winning a gold medal. I feel like a special basketball player to make it to a team like this.” … “For as anybody who grew up in the U.S., and was able to be a basketball player in the NBA, you understand the things that your country has done for you and your family,” he said. “It gave you an opportunity to be able to support your family and be recognized as a household name. It was just an honor to be able to do something like that, and I would advise anybody selected to a team like this to take that honor and cherish it. It shouldn’t be a question in your mind. When you get a chance to represent your country, what’s better than that?””
also, considering that LeBron played on this disappointing team, it’s extra points against my cousin’s hero.
03. that one playoff win Iverson and the 76ers got in the 2001 NBA Finals
when you say “the Los Angeles Lakers won the 2001 NBA Finals 4-1 over the Philadelphia 76ers,” it doesn’t sound like much of anything to be proud of. but then you have to remember the following:
-the Lakers were the defending champions, and absolutely predicted to sweep the 76ers;
-this is the Kobe/Shaq Lakers of which we speak (although the feud WAS beginning around this time);
-the Lakers’ loss in Game 1 of the Finals was the ONLY game they lost that ENTIRE postseason
…and to make that loss happen, Iverson overcame a 21-9 Lakers lead AND a fourth-quarter Lakers comeback; scored 48 points himself, an impressive score in pretty much any game; and a 76ers starting lineup of Aaron McKie, Jumaine Jones, Tyrone Hill and Dikembe Mutombo. granted, i will always have a soft spot for Mutombo and his finger-wagging, and he WAS good that year … but that is not an awe-inspiring lineup.
02. that infamous “we’re talking about PRACTICE” press conference
i think we all know what i am referring to:
…to which i can only say, if you can’t appreciate the comedy Iverson gave us there, you must live a sad lifestyle. and yes, i may have launched into an impromptu rendition of this when debating with said cousin earlier. i can’t help it.
back when the 76ers came in three sizes: king-size, standard, and fun-size
01. that Iverson 5’11”, even if Wikipedia claims otherwise
yes, i know, other men, some even smaller than Iverson, have played professional basketball and yes, 5’11” isn’t THAT small (it allows you to be listed as 6′ or so in order to help your draft prospects, if nothing else). but i struggle to think of any guys who were that size (Iverson was somewhere in the 165-170 pound range, which is a shade above what a tiny person like myself weighs) playing as ridiculously hard and physically against opponents who tower over them (and who, incidentally, are probably also pretty good at playing professional basketball). to play that hard and that well at that size against that level of competition? how can you NOT respect it?
this, admittedly, was not the most necessary of updates, but sometimes, that’s how it goes. until next time!