March 02, 2012
Over the past few weeks, erstwhile NBA star Allen Iverson has been in the news for money troubles. There were reports that he was completely broke — an amazing idea given he made more than $150 million just from NBA salary — followed by condescending offers from minor sports teams. It was a sad story, a circus, and a cautionary tale all at once.
Except it turns out that the entire story was overblown. According to a new report, Iverson isn't broke at all — in fact, he has millions of dollars in the bank. He just doesn't have access to all of it. From the always trustworthy Peter Vecsey for the New York Post (via SLAM):
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.
To clarify, Iverson doesn't have an unlimited amount of money, and it's very possible that he exhausts his annual take well before the year is out. But that doesn't make him any more broke than a trust-fund kid who spent his $10,000 monthly allowance two weeks before the calendar turns. The problem isn't that he has no money, but that he uses it unwisely.
It's easy to moralize about Allen Iverson — he's been a divisive figure since high school. But, like all athletes (or even just all humans), he's more complicated than what conventional wisdom suggests. He's not broke, or a financial war zone. In fact, he seems to have planned his future with some perspective. If Iverson needs money, it's a temporary problem. There's no need to blow his situation out of proportion for the sake of moralism. He deserves better than that.